Aggression and Peacefulness in Humans and Other Primates by James Silverberg, J. Patrick Gray

By James Silverberg, J. Patrick Gray

This ebook explores the function of aggression in primate social platforms and its implications for human habit.

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Wars do not occur because a critical mass of people on either side reaches a "boiling point," resulting in an attack on a different social unit. " However, this is as true for the smaller scale wars and "almost-wars" of preindustrial societies as it is for the wars of industrialized states. Most researchers agree that conceptual models of violence and nonviolence among nonhuman primates will be useful in explaining patterns of human violence only when the complications created by the human capacity for culture are integrated with the models.

Over 50 years ago, a pioneer in "pecking order" research, warned against a simplistic assumption that dominance reflects a single factor: [V]ery often . . birds peck one another . . in a "triangle": a pecks b, b pecks c, and c again pecks a. [Perhaps] strength has given a despotism over b, courage has made b despot over c, and circumstances have caused c to become despot over a (Schjelderup-Ebbe 1935:952-953). His admonitions about the single-determinant fallacy and the frequency of triangles (Sade's "cycles," Chapter 3) have often been ignored, as mass media popularizers and some scientific ethologists resonated back and forth to stereotype the dominance hierarchy as linear (transitive), rigid and based essentially on fighting ability.

Robarchek suggests (1989:904) that the problem with psychobiological, socio- VIOLENCE AND PEACEFULNESS AS BEHAVIORAL POTENTIALITIES OF PRIMATES 27 biological or ecological explanations of warfare is not that they are necessarily wrong (this must be determined on a case by case basis), but that they are necessarily incomplete. A complete explanation of an act of violence (or conciliation) or a pattern of war (or peace) requires information on the symbolic world and the motives of the participants.

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