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Warfare not inherent in human nature?

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From Phys.org:

The teams’ study consisted of analyzing the remains of approximately 2,500 people that lived in Japan during the Jomon period [(from 13,000 – 800 BC)], looking for examples of violence, e.g. broken or damaged bones. The team reports that they found evidence of violence in just 1.8 percent of all the adult bones represented and in just 0.89 percent of the population as a whole. A very low number compared to the 12 to 14 percent seen in other hunter-gatherer populations of around the same time period (which strongly suggested a violent existence). This, the researchers claim, suggests that the people of that time lived peacefully among themselves and did not conduct war against others that might have lived nearby. And that, they add, suggests that humans may not be quite as predisposed to violence as others have suggested, which counters other arguments that it was warfare that led people to band together into groups forming communities that allowed for the promotion of intra-group altruism and even more advanced warfare against other such groups—a selective from of evolutionary behavior. More.

A clear advantage would be gained by just leaving “evolution” out of the picture. It comes with a ready-made set of clangers that occlude analysis.

For example, there is an underlying assumption that early humans behaved without reason, the way an aggressive animal would.

If we assume that early humans perceived and responded to their environment in a human way, we will not be surprised that some groups were not especially violent, just as some groups are not especially violent today.

Humans are not inherently violent, but rather inherently capable of violence.  The usual approach to study is to ask how their societies’ circumstances differ from those of societies with high rates of violence.

A personal favourite is: Early man wanted lots of offspring, to spread his selfish genes. But did he? Didn’t it occur to him that that would mean more people to feed and protect?

He might, of course, think the trouble worthwhile. But the theorist usually doesn’t assume that early man is doing any forward thinking at all. Which leads one to ask, how much evidence do we have for a time when human beings did not do any thinking at all?

See also: The search for our earliest ancestors: signals in the noise

Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife

and

Human origins: The war of trivial explanations

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2 Replies to “Warfare not inherent in human nature?

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    “Early man wanted lots of offspring, to spread his selfish genes.”

    Early man did NOT understand that sexual intercourse was the cause of babies. Messing around with Thugetta after the storytelling around the campfire was just FUN.

    “Didn’t it occur to him that that would mean more people to feed and protect?”

    As we know from people such as the Bushmen, the rule of thumb was “1 walks and 1 can be carried”. That is, any female member of the manpack was allowed 2 children at any specific time: 1 that could walk all day by themselves and 1 that had to be carried at least part of the time. If Mom delivered a THIRD Bundle of Joy, #3 was allowed to die one way or another. Some societies has a slightly different rule: the FIRST offspring who SURVIVED had to be MALE.

    And of course females are gonna be dead before they’re 25 years old.

    But deadly violence between male humans was VERY uncommon. It was the kind of thing that would likely get you Banished into the wilderness where you would have to a tough time surviving alone. No manpack would greet a lone male wanderer as an asset.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    People want their way and dislike/hate other people. Cain murdered abel because of losing.
    Then people get mad and they physical. Males more then females.
    War is just mad people getting physical .
    So war only doesn’t happen because of interference with this anger.
    No matter how peaceful it seems war could break out as quick as people yelling from their cars at others suddenly.

    Most people in the past never had physical fights. Even in the last century 97% never got touched in the body by violence. its always poor sampling to count the millions dead from wars.

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