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 Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:53 pm

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OPTIMISTS called the first world war "the war to end all wars". Philosopher George Santayana demurred. In its aftermath he declared: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". History has proved him right, of course. What's more, today virtually nobody believes that humankind will ever transcend the violence and bloodshed of warfare. I know this because for years I have conducted numerous surveys asking people if they think war is inevitable. Whether male or female, liberal or conservative, old or young, most people believe it is. For example, when I asked students at my university "Will humans ever stop fighting wars?" more than 90 per cent answered "No". Many justified their assertion by adding that war is "part of human nature" or "in our genes". But is it really?
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327151.500-winning-the-ultimate-battle-how-humans-could-end-war.html?full=true

I'm personally not in the optimist camp. I think that there are certain environmental factors that bring about social coping mechanisms that make war more likely.

What are your thoughts?

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Uriah

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PostSubject: Re: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:10 pm

I have often stated that Humans are like complex computers: we are, on the one hand, comprised of our Genetic/Biological Hardware, and on the other hand our Cultural/Memetic Software.

As one of my professors would put it we are Biologically Under-determined and Culturally Over-determined. Meaning, we are mostly what we are taught to be.


War, and all the purposes for which humans wage organized conflict, are cultural/memetic ones.

In fact, the rise of organized conflict is a cultural trait that has been shown to have arisen with the development of Agriculture and the resulting sedentary, socially stratified, civilizations that emerged.

Some anthropologists have noted a further developmental characteristic in the rise of organized conflict - that being a move from a primarily Matriarchal Culture to a Patristic one.

James DeMeo, is probably the best example.


Therefore, I think it's safe to say that War is not "Hardwired" into us, but rather "programmed" into us.

It's a cultural trait, and a very powerful Meme, that has managed to cement itself very deeply into our collective memeplex.

That's not to say, however, that it can't be exorcised, and that a new, more peaceful, meme cannot take its place.
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:25 am

Is it possible that memes and genes co-evolve? And if so, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

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PostSubject: Re: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Thu Aug 13, 2009 12:42 pm

Aaron wrote:
Is it possible that memes and genes co-evolve? And if so, which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I don't think there's much question about which came first. Memes are the offspring of Genes. But now that both are out there replicating like rabbits, they must co-evolve. However, genes replicate like turtles compared to memes, so if the race goes to the swift, the egg now has a big lead.
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PostSubject: Re: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:03 pm

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War, and all the purposes for which humans wage organized conflict, are cultural/memetic ones.

I agree. But I also believe that the cultural memes are simply propagating the inherent instinct for competition that allow the "fittest" genes to survive. However, one of the roles of religion, that goes under-reported these days, is to mitigate the worst consequences of the competitive urge with moral and ethical restraints.

As Robert Wright observed in THE EVOLUTION OF GOD, the conceptual circle that separates Us from Them has been slowly expanding over the millennia of civilization. Unfortunately, human populations are also expanding rapidly, which increases the opportunities for conflict of interest. The result is that our ethical memes have to run as fast as possible, just to stay in the same place.

So I suspect that memetic population control would result in a reduction of genetic-based resource wars. Of course, that still leaves room for memetic-based ego wars. Just call me a "Peptomist".
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michael1111

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PostSubject: Re: Are Humans Hard-Wired For War?   Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:27 pm

i think the animal inside us instinctively wants to be top dog and war is a manipulation of that natural urge.
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