Human Nature May Not Be So Warlike After All | Wired Science


Image: Douglas Fry

Given the long, awful history of violence between groups of people, it’s easy to think that humans are predisposed to war. But a new study of violence in modern hunter-gatherer societies, which may hold clues to prehistoric human life, suggests that warlike behavior is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Sure, humans are violent, the researchers say — but most hunter-gatherer killing results from flared tempers and personal feuds rather than group conflicts.

The findings contradict the notion “that humans have an evolved tendency to form coalitions to kill members of neighboring groups,” wrote anthropologists Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg in their July 18 Science paper.

“The vast majority of us assume that war is ancient, that it’s part and parcel of human nature,” said Fry. “These types of perceptions have very strong influences on what goes on in current-day society.”

via Human Nature May Not Be So Warlike After All – Wired Science.

5 comments

    1. I totally agree. I am trying to find a documentary I saw a few years ago about the oldest settlement in Peru at Caral. This predates the Incas by two thousand years. Goes back about 5000 years ago. One of the things most interesting about this is that contrary to so many of the assumptions among antrhopologists about early human settlements, there are no indications of warfare: no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Keep a look out. When I find it, I will post it up here on Reason & Existenz. 🙂

      1. Please do!! These findings are particularly interesting to me in light of the modern natural law/rights philosophy which is based on a thought experiment that considers what humans would be like in a state of nature. Much of this philosophy – and the assumptions it has given us – has contributed to our ideas of government, social policy etc. Maybe we’re not so bad after all!! 🙂

        All the best!

      2. I found the BBC documentary. It will be up in a bit.

        Yes. I have had many conversations with folks about Thomas Hobbes and those who base their view of human beings pre-civilization on his “life in a state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short” as well as “man to man is a wolf”.

        But these notions also contradict Rousseau whose proto-Romantic view of the “noble savage” does its own viciousness to our human roots.

        Anyway, the documentary link will be up here in a bit. When you get a chance to watch it, please let me know what you think.

        Namaste _/|\_

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