Warfare is a common characteristic of all primate societies and its main feature is violence or conflict. The objective is usually to achieve a psychological or material domination over the enemy because one group perceives that the opponent is more dominant and two groups are unable to agree to equality as way to solve their differences. There are many motivating factors that lead to war including resources, power, sociological and psychological elements. The point of focus here is the psychological elements.
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Psychologists have argued that human beings are inherently violent, this is to mean that they are naturally aggressive thus the reason for them engaging in wars.Psychologists like E.F.M. Durban and John Bowlby believe that aggressiveness is caused by anger hatred, and bias against other nations, religions, ideologies, races and other attributes that make the human race different.
Sigmund Freud a person considered as father of psychology argues that there is a reservoir of aggressive energy in humans naturally and spontaneously and that this energy must be occasionally released trough sports to prevent it from causing violence. However others believe this is just a theory and that human aggressiveness is more of a characteristic acquired through nurture not nature, making the question” Are Humans Innately Aggressive?” or is it just a fallacy and hence the need to critically examine the reality.
The first step would to examine the controversy of nature or nurture as mentioned above. This has to do with the extent to which human behavior is instinctive or affected by environmental factors such as culture, role of parents and peers.
The question of nurture and nature as been there since the Darwinian era with the argument taking three sides: some say that culture is to blame; others argue it is instinct and thirdly some argue it is genetic.
“Aggression is an action with the intent to create harm; however, violence refers to an action with extreme harm as the main goal of the action Culture is also the entirety of the instinctual forces of humans channeled into institutions that allow for good and bad behavior, where those who follow the guidelines are good and the violators are bad (Fornari, 261).
Culture can therefore not be completely separated from instincts or human desires but can only be used to help humans fit to the specific society that a person is living in and hence the two elements should be handled together.
Different cultures have diverse values that they believe in and are instilled in the people for guidance. Some cultures encourage violence and even reward those that are very violent and are considered as pride of the community. Most of these communities are found in Africa and the Asian nations. Other cultures are calm, gentle encourage peace and even punish those that engage in violence.
Human beings unlike other animals are biologically created to enable; rational thinking, consideration, creativity and culture and hence it is this factor that should enable them to cooperate and to coexist. Again because of this factor, humans choose what they want and who they want to be, there is no such thing as nature it all depends on the values and norms that we hold on to.
Furthermore some scientist have argued not all human beings have instincts, which are; innate predispositions such as desire to eat and reproduce, thus the argument if indeed there is one for aggression. However all humans have some degree of aggression for protection and feeding, what maters is how far is an individual wiling to be aggressive and that depends on the values that have been instilled in the individual by culture (Fornari, 265).
Genetically testosterone has been believed to be the cause of aggression, however it is just a source and there has to an external factor that influences aggressiveness.Serotin is another hormone that is believed to cause aggression, for it is responsible for antisocial behaviors in human if it is low in the body but similar to testosterone it can not be solely blamed for aggression but is used by people as a scapegoat.
Most of the proponents of this idea of innate aggression have received criticisms such as: their studies are based on animal experiments ignoring the major differences that there between animals and humans, secondly many types of animal aggression are not similar to human aggressions, humans are complex and have ability to reason rationally unlike animals, and finally there is little biological evidence that supports this theory.
Having looked at innate human aggression it’s evident that it not a cause of warfare and it is found it is all societies People who believe otherwise are also unlikely to support peace movements but instead support wars.( Fisk and Schellenberg)explains that” we do have a choice with respect to aggression and war. To an extent, such destructiveness is due precisely to the mistaken assumption that we are helpless to control an essentially violent nature’.
The major causes of war as mentioned earlier are ;power, one of the major cause of wars in the world’s history ,leaders such as Hitler led to the deaths of many due to wars that they initiated due to their personals ambitions of achieving absolute power, resources the other major element that has been a major force that led to war over the centuries all in pursuit for more territory and wealth, sociological wars are other kinds of wars that have featured in the world and ere caused by social political and economic factors for example the world wars, religious wars also very common especially with the Muslims and Jews ,some are about leadership ,worshipping places like temples and also ideologies supported by a particular religion.
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There are factors that have characterized modern wars such as; Marxists theories wars are as a result of free market and the class systems that have led to competition for resources and markets, the theories argue that these wars would only end only if the two classes would disappear but it would take a revolution for that to happen.
The other type of modern wars is sanctioned by the UN so as to foster peace in a nation that is experiencing crisis for example the gulf wars and Korean Wars. Most wars come to an end and people often result to, rational reasoning to solve their differences which involves negotiation, mediation, arbitration, arbitration and implementation of the agreements. This shows that there are better ways of conflict resolution instead of wars.
Humans being a product of their societies and cultures, their actions and decisions are solely dependent on the environment in which they live and not human instincts. Human aggression is universal but wars are not, since there are so many peaceful nations where people are civilized and reason beyond their personal instincts.
Some societies too have been involved in wars in past ,for example Sweden, but it has transformed from a society characterized by wars to a calm and industrialized nation and this can only be explained in terms of social and political factors and not humans instincts because people still exist there and they are not fighting.
The role of the environment is so vital that the innate behavior theory seen to be out of place because other human needs like sex have been controlled through celibacy, while people survive hunger when they fast voluntarily. It could be considered as saying; it is the nature of buildings to burn because there is oxygen in our planet.
Many fallacies have been created such as ‘we are born to be killers, we have an excuse to act like killers” and people have been made to believe in them by there creators who are often our rulers and law makers. If human beings are aggressive in nature and war cannot be avoided we then need very powerful leaders, governments, strong armies and security forces, and a lot of guidance from the church to save us from ourselves.
To understand aggression psychologists need to find out the how human beings are able to stay in one group and peacefully coexist but yet attack other groups just because they don’t belong to the same group although they are still humans.This is evidence that wars are beyond instincts and nature but more of nurture, and that aggression is learned or acquired.
Fisk and Schellenberg. Patterns of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Peterborough,ON: Broadview Press, 2000. Print.
Fornari, Franco. The Psychoanalysis of War. NewYork: Doubleday: Anchor Press, 1974. Print.