IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Does individual human aggressiveness explain war?

People (many people anyway) do behave aggressively; no doubt about it (you probably know some 🙂 ). Some have even argued that aggression is instinctual, left over from our animal past. In animals aggression is probably a good thing, since it means that herds, etc…remain the right size for the given food resources in an area. That’s one reason why alpha males chase away others and make them go start their own herds elsewhere. If there are too many of a given species on a given amount of territory the food would be exhausted with disastrous consequences for the species.

However, in people, while aggression is certainly present, there isn’t much proof it is instinctive. Still, it is widespread in certain cultures and contexts. So, does that “pool” of aggression help to explain wars? Does the aggression sort of spill over against foreigners? I don’t think so. Why, because it takes a lot of training to get soldiers to kill, whereas you would think, if they were just overflowing with aggression they would only need the tools and to be pointed in the right direction. Rather, it seems soldiers kill primarily to protect themselves, their countries, communities and–most important for men–their buddies among their fellow soldiers. So even if there is a lot of aggression on the individual level, it is very hard to see how that gets aggregated and channeled into a large scale collective undertaking like a war.

The search for the cause of war continues!


September 3, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Comment by sandrar | September 10, 2009 | Reply

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