Human Nature and War

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 13 November 2016

Human Nature and War

The twenty first century is known to have begun just the same way that the previous century ended-within a perpetual war set- the actual words of Pinker, Hobbes and Wilson appear to hit true indeed. Therefore, the Homo Sapiens’ nature, irrespective of the perspectives of idealists like Dennis Kucinich and John Lennon, is such that the Iraq, Palestine and other few forsaken lands may not attest to the peace failure, but stands for the unavoidability of human violence.

With the primarily general acceptance, in case sometimes believed reluctantly, of every individual with regard to the truth, the left antiwar has dwindled into political ambition and prowess, while Islamic, Christian together with secular Dominionists amongst individuals rush along the perspectives of the “eventual days”. However, do all these actions and perceptions perfectly describe the truth that surrounds the human condition? Could it be possible that humans are trapped, genetically and or otherwise, by the circumstances within this downward spiral into oblivion?

Could individuals like Wilson, Pinker, Lorenz, Ghiglieri and Stoessinger have picked a wrong perception of humanity? It might be prudent to note that humanism is often related to the fact that individual human beings ought to understand that habits are often picked, hence they are cognitive. Just like children’s brains have been said to develop with regard to the environment within which they are raised, so is the issue regarding human violence.

Every individual possesses unique capabilities, whether acquired, developed or inborn, but issues regarding wars and violence are extremely cognitive and these capabilities within individuals only perform the role of catalyzing the war-like acts. The mainstream to the international relations’ contemporary discipline still depends on key principles that were first enunciated by the Second World War era’s scholars. The comprehensive arguments of the classical realists has attained a few defining concepts within the IR and still effectively shape the general scholarly study’s orientation within the field.

Wilson effectively alleged that he saw a failure in idealism to take to consideration the entire underlying natural laws, which made mankind to tend towards aggression and violence. The issue regarding human aggression and violence has been a hotly debated issue amongst international relations theorists who have been known to concentrate on the analysis based on individual levels. The human nature theorists have been said to keenly focus on how individual attributes and characteristics might interact with the distinct social environment into producing particular violent situations e. g.wars.

However, besides focusing on the physical, external environment, the cognitive theorists have been forefront in providing an explanation regarding the fact that the war-like situations or individual propensities to violence are often tied to their mental processes. These cognitive theorists are often convinced that personality, intelligence, as well as learning are often the key relations to aggressive behavior. Although there might never exist scholarly agreements that pin down the key motivator to war, there certainly is one factor that might seem too weighty with regard to the same.

On the other hand, motivations might present themselves within different perspectives for the individuals initiating violence than for the individuals undertaking the violence acts. For instance, within the 3rd Punic War, the leaders of Rome might have wished to create war using Carthage in order to attain an effective means of eliminating an extremely resurgent rival, although the individual soldiers might have received the motivation from a desire to obtain money. Since several individuals are involved, violence activities might acquire a life of their own, from distinct motivations’ confluence.

Within the text, Why Nations Go to War, written by Stoessinger John G. , this author effectively points out the fact that every side often claims that their fight is often justified by morality. He also argues that any rationale for starting a war often relies upon the overly optimistic outcome assessment of hostilities (costs and causalities), as well as the foe’s intentions’ misperceptions. Most cognitive theorists believe in the fact that previous war environments often lead individuals into planning, as well as assessing various other ways of executing activities that result to war.

Since the tactical and strategic warfare aspects are dynamic, doctrines and theories associated with warfare are always created after, during or even before each major war. Grossman, another cognitive theorist claimed that each age had its own war type, its own limiting factors, as well as its own peculiar or unique preconceptions. However, the constant factor is the employment of an extremely organized level of violence by the war activities together with the life and property destructions, which necessarily follow.

This depicts the fact that these activities are often linked to a sequence of activities that might have happened previously; thus adopted. The society, therefore, adopts previous aggressiveness and creates more activities that are geared towards war. With regard to aggression, most human nature theorists, including Lorenz have a belief that the attribute is often involuntary and often originates from within. However, although Fry agrees with the fact that aggression might have been a part of the nature of human beings, perhaps even neurologically or genetically, but the way in which aggression is often played out bases itself on culture rather than just nature.

Nomadic hunters and gatherers (currently or in the past), are considered egalitarian societies that are not entirely absent of all limited violence or aggression, but all its members might not practice extreme or wide scale violence within warfare. Instead, they possess several methods of managing conflicts and reconciliation techniques that minimize aggression or violence. Therefore, in this case, it should be prudent to note that there might be several examples within human nature of cooperation and peace within the human history’s bulk than of war and violence.

On the contrary, social democrats together with socialists happen to maintain the Marxist ideology that every human being is infinitely good and malleable, although this notion might not effectively work either. With regard to human behavior, it is obvious that nature takes up a considerable role regulating it. Pinker might be extremely right when he argues that individuals never get into this world in the form of ‘bank slates’. Moreover, the words ‘bad’ or ‘good are so superficial and vague that they cannot do individuals any real service.

On the other hand, Left-Libertarians, anarchists together with other progressives joined hands with cognitive theorists in effectively agreeing that human beings are neither bad nor good, and that they are a combination of nurture and nature, and that under particular conditions, certain human adaptations (or traits) might effectively emerge penultimate. This, therefore, signifies the fact that every violence related activity is often fueled by both the nature of human beings together with the environmental influences that surround him (Alcock, 2001).

Yet the classical realist conception’s legacy of an extreme aggressive and egoistic humanity may still be reflected within the several distinct ways within contemporary international relations. An individualistic and competitive view regarding human nature still appears to underlie a variety of arguments regarding international politics, informing the ultimate, key security dilemma concept. Because humans are often viewed as lustful towards power, as well as individual desires and gains, no group or individual may be secure from others’ threat.

These others might be distinct, foreign, and alien and could thus be considered as opposed. Within the state system and the contemporary international politics, business as usual depends on the difference demonization and the expulsion and rejection of the other so as to reify borders and foster national identity. Although several human nature theorists strive to bring their ideology to table regarding the inner being that exhibits activities that relate to violence, none of them compares to Pinker, a master phrase-turner, as well as a handy individual with regard to concepts (Dawkins, 1981).

He makes use of the gear concept to explain the fact that a gene, which disrupts a mental capability does not need to be defective; in a similar way, genes can effectively impact on the number of complex traits within humans. He, therefore, concludes that genes have the ability to result to a variety of social disruptions. According to him, these genes might be hereditary or acquired through transfusions (1981). Pinker effectively concentrates on three distinct ideological myths or dogma, which inform all academic theories regarding the human nature.

First the notion of the blank slate that addresses the fact that the environment is the key impact to human nature (e. g. violence activities); often, lip service is accorded to innate structure, although after that, anything could be extremely possible to the unlimited ability of human brain to learn as long as the right environment is accorded. Second is the ghost within the machine that explains that the mind, soul and psyche are distinct from brain, body and matter (Dawkins, 1981).

Often, this always attains a reference of dualism; it effectively sets up an extreme distinction between psychology-neurology, mind-brain, man-animal etc. This could be said to be among the considerable disasters of the western thought, and often gets into the way of human happiness. The third notion addresses the idea of romantics or savage, which claims that natural things are often good and unblemished as long as they are not tainted by the society. With this regard, Pinker explains that every individual human is responsible for his activities without any particular influence from the environment (Carl, 1991).

It could then be argued after reading Fry’s piece that there could be extremely something distinct within nomadic hunters and gatherers than within states or chiefdoms that might lead individuals to ever increasing warfare and violence. Cognitive theories maintain that all human attributes and behavior including violent attributes are often learned via interaction with the entire social environment. The theorists assert that individuals are never born with any violent dispositions. Rather, they often acquire information and learn to act and think violently from their daily experiences.

Proponents to the behaviorist tradition insist that these experiences might incorporate the observations made to friends and families being rewarded for their absolute violent tendencies, or even making observations regarding the media glorification of violence. For instance studies about family life exhibit the fact that aggressive children always reflect the behaviors or attributes of their parents. Several studies have also revealed that individuals who live within violent prone communities often learn to reflect the aggressive nature of their neighbors.

Cognitive theorists have effectively argued that the following factors aid in yielding violent behaviors and wars: 1. A stressful stimulus or event- like a challenge, assault or threat. 2. Aggressive techniques or skills acquired through continuously observing others’ behavioral tendencies. 3. The belief that violence or aggression may be socially rewarded (for example by earning other individuals’ praise, providing material goods, enhancing self esteem or reducing frustration). 4.

An extreme value system, which condones violent and aggressive acts in particular social contexts. Earlier, empirical tests to these four principles were perceived as promising (Bartol, 2002). Due to this, behavioral theory contributed directly to the effective development and integration of social learning, deviance theories, among the most influential and significant of all known criminological theories may be subject to detailed discussions within the report titled: Social Learning and Violence.

Although social Darwinism might have declined within popular favor as a result of the World Wars’ experience, the 20th century might not have seen the eventual attempts to elaborate human behavior with regard to evolved genetic predispositions. The sociobiology founder, Edward Wilson, defined this as a systematic biological basis’ study of every social behavior. This evolutionary theory branch inspired a variety of scholars of the IR to revisit arguments that are classical and realists with regard to human nature, despite Waltz’s individual concerns together with investigating their confidence within evolutionary science.

These scholars have been seeking to combine the rational choice theory’s elements with revolutionary arguments in a bid to provide proof of the claims that might have been previously considered insignificant and unknowable. This entire sentiment is effectively addressed within perhaps the boldest way by Thayer Bradley in an article International Security published in 2000.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 13 November 2016

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