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On Aggression (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Konrad Lorenz
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 May 2002 0415283205 978-0415283205 2
Konrad Lorenz was the author of some of the most popular books ever published about animals, including the best-selling Man Meets Dog and King Solomon's Ring. On Aggression is one of his finest works, as well as the most controversial. Through an insightful and characteristically entertaining survey of animal behaviour, the Nobel Prize winner tracks the evolution of aggression throughout the animal world. He also raises some startling questions when he applies his observations of animal psychology to humankind. His conclusions caused an unprecedented controversy, culminating in a statement adopted by UNESCO in 1989 which appeared to condemn his work. Whether or not Lorenz actually claimed aggression is hard-wired into the human psyche, and that war is an inevitable result, is something readers can decide upon for themselves. However you react, there can be no doubting that in today's violent world this powerful work remains of paramount importance.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (9 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415283205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415283205
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 20 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 438,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Packed with entrancing detail, profound wisdom and deft humour... the book is a masterpiece.' - The Guardian

About the Author

Konrad Lorenz (1903-89). Pioneering and world-renowned scientist of animal behaviour. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Psychology in 1973.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are the missing link 16 Nov 2007
By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For K. Lorenz, `conflict is the father of all things', and aggression is one of the four big conflicting drives in living beings, together with hunger, sex (love) and flight (fear, escape).
Like everything else in life, aggression was molded by natural selection and mutation. It is the fighting instinct which is directed against members of one's own species (`like avoids like'). Its essential function is the preservation of the species as a whole. It provides for a balanced distribution of living beings of the same species over the available environment, selection of the strongest by rival fights and defense of the young. It is always favorable for the species if the strongest take possession of, mark (by song, scent, sound, color) and defend a territory and conquer the desired females.
Aggression is a dangerous, because spontaneous, instinct and can become very harmful. Therefore evolution provided for innate behavior - the interaction of all drives - canalization in personal bonds (recognition, friendship, love), in communication (rites, appeasement gestures), in prohibitions (taboos). One example: when a female chimpanzee entered a new room, she presented her behind to every ... chair.
And what about man? Why do reasonable beings behave so unreasonably? Because we are still subject to all the laws of instinctive behavior. Our pride, arrogance and overestimation prohibit us to learn from animals. We are worse than rats. Explosive population rise stops automatically in rat colonies and after a wholesale slaughter enough individual rats survive to propagate the species. This would not be the case for the human race if the H-bomb is used.
But there is a glimmer of hope: we should consider ourselves as the missing link between animals and the real human beings to come.
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Format:Paperback
A lifetime of thinking, research, and observation clearly went into creating this marvelous book. I like it when someone clearly cares about what he's doing, engrosses himself in his work, possibly to the point of obsession. This may well describe Lorenz and this classic book, who defends Darwin and to some degree Freud, among others. Not just about his first hand observations of animals and his interpretation of their behavior, the book extends its scope to include philosophy and history, especially the evolutionary underpinnings of human history. It is rich in detail and very well written. A must read for anyone who cares about the past and future of living things on this planet. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A nice read but dated 17 Jan 2009
By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Three stars for an accessible writing style which will have appeal for any reader academic or general, a good contents, layout, pace and index.

However, while the observations about aggression in the animal kingdom is interestingly contrasted with human aggression Lorenz expands to an entire book what is neatly summed up in a few pages in Midgely's Wickedness, also in the Routledge Classics range.

Likewise there are other and better explanations for aggression, some in response to Lorenz's conclusions, for instance those reached by Eric Fromm who wrote an expansive Anatomy of Human Destructiveness and Anthony Storr's book Human Aggression. For instance, an account of aggression as an inherited, natural/instinctive behaviour, the repression of such by modern society leads to outbursts doesnt account for how neurosis, psychosis or inner conflicts drive individuals toward aggressiveness.

Recommended, as a well presented classic, but by no means the final word on the topic, therefore I cant give it the full five stars.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lorenz was wrong 8 Dec 2011
By Carlos
Format:Paperback
Konrad Lorenz proposed in "On Aggression" the theory that the violence is always something good and necessary for all the animals. Lorenz thought that the only reason that animals developed this type of behavior is the self-defense of the species. Unfortunately, Lorenz had a big knowledge about animals, but he didn't have the same wisdom about human behavior. Erich Fromm, in his great book "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness", made a total critique of the theories that Lorenz proposed in "On Aggression". And, no doubt, From was right and Lorenz was wrong.

Fromm realized that Lorenz didn't see that in the humans there are two different types of aggression, no only one. The first type has, like in the animals, the objective of the auto-defense. But, the second type has the objective of the destruction. The violence of a serial-killer is not defensive; is destructive, egomaniac and demonic. Lorenz only was conscious of the first type, but never saw the second, evil, type. The human violence is more complicated than Lorenz thought. It is impossible understand this theme only studying ducks and rats. To understand the human behavior it's necessary study history, psychology and religion, as Fromm did.

If you are interested in the human violence you must read two great books of Erich Fromm: "Escape from Freedom" and "Anatomy of Human Destructiveness".
Richard Dawkins is another writer who, in his book "The Selfish Gene", has made critics to Lorenz's positive vision of violence postulated in "On Aggression".
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant today 9 Jun 2007
By Matthew Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very in depth and detailed book. You can tell two things from reading this.

1. That Konrad Lorenz loved what he did and did it with a passion unlikely to be exceeded by anyone.

2. That he didn't miss much of anything.

This is not my field so keep in mind this review is for the amateur like me. The book bogs down a little in places due to the detail the author emphasizes. This attention to detail is, of course, also what makes the book so good. It is the little details and observing every little movement and action then using the information gathered through those thousands of hours of close scrutiny to form conclusions as to why animals behave the way they do that makes this work a time tested masterpiece. My warning would be to be ready for this level of detail and you will be rewarded with a deeper understanding of the world around you and our own nature. The difficulty of the book is far exceeded by the rewards gained.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Work 6 Aug 2008
By C. Primak - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As much as this book has diminished in scientific importance of the many years since it was first published, it has gained as much, if not more, importance as a historical work. Even though this field has passed up the originator his work still stands as monument of scientific achievement.

The strange aspect of science is the fact that many times the most important scientists in any given field are those that failed. It is these men and women who have done the laborious field work plus the countless hours sifting through and analyzing data to come up with sound conclusions. Well I don't think with Konrad Lorenz's achievements anyone would call him a failure, but even though many of his conclusions have become antiquated it was his work that created the foundation for all those who have come after this giant. His work advanced this his field by decades.

So in the end, don't read Konrad Lorenz to understand the world and ethology as it stands today, but instead to understand how we came to this point of achievement now. Read this book to understand the history of this field of science and research, and to understand where and how it came about. This man was a pioneer, and without his tireless effort and devotion our understanding of our environment and ourselves would years behind. This is an important work that still needs to be read.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are the missing link 16 Nov 2007
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
For K. Lorenz, `conflict is the father of all things', and aggression is one of the four big conflicting drives in living beings, together with hunger, sex (love) and flight (fear, escape).
Like everything else in life, aggression was molded by natural selection and mutation. It is the fighting instinct which is directed against members of one's own species (`like avoids like'). Its essential function is the preservation of the species as a whole. It provides for a balanced distribution of living beings of the same species over the available environment, selection of the strongest by rival fights and defense of the young. It is always favorable for the species if the strongest take possession of, mark (by song, scent, sound, color) and defend a territory and conquer the desired females.
Aggression is a dangerous, because spontaneous, instinct and can become very harmful. Therefore evolution provided for innate behavior - the interaction of all drives - canalization in personal bonds (recognition, friendship, love), in communication (rites, appeasement gestures), in prohibitions (taboos). One example: when a female chimpanzee entered a new room, she presented her behind to every ... chair.
And what about man? Why do reasonable beings behave so unreasonably? Because we are still subject to all the laws of instinctive behavior. Our pride, arrogance and overestimation prohibit us to learn from animals. We are worse than rats. Explosive population rise stops automatically in rat colonies and after a wholesale slaughter enough individual rats survive to propagate the species. This would not be the case for the human race if the H-bomb is used.
But there is a glimmer of hope: we should consider ourselves as the missing link between animals and the real human beings to come. Education, science and peace should provide for a `human' transition.

This is by any standard a very important and actual book. A picture of all the animals considered would, however, have been helpful.
Like the works of R. Dawkins, this book a must read for all those wanting to understand human behavior.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Well Written and Original Work of Famous Scientist 10 Jan 2009
By Irene Riz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
On Aggression (Routledge Classics)
The book gives you an interesting and convincing explanation of the origin of aggression in humans. The same as Darwin's theory of human origin, it is not flattering. Therefore it was not taken well initially. As far as I know there is no other constructive explanation.
Understanding animal behavior can help understanding humans because some of the basic rules of operation still apply. Author illustrates his hypothesis with multiple very interesting examples of animal and human behavior. If you want to find a way of understanding and accepting us the way we are or simply looking for fun reading or for a hope for humanity, it is a good place to start the quest.
6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lorenz was wrong 6 April 2008
By Carlos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Konrad Lorenz proposed in "On Aggression" the theory that the violence is always something good and necessary for all the animals. Lorenz says that the reason that animals have developed this type of behavior is the self-defense of the species. Unfortunately, Lorenz had a big knowledge about animals, but he didn't have the same wisdom about human behavior. Erich Fromm, in his great book "The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness", made a total critique of the theories that Lorenz proposed in "On Aggression". And, no doubt, From was right and Lorenz was wrong.

Fromm realized that Lorenz didn't see that in the humans there are two different types of aggression, no only one. The first type has, like in the animals, the objective of the auto-defense. But, the second type has the objective of the destruction. The violence of a serial-killer is not defensive; is destructive, egomaniac and demonic. Lorenz only was conscious of the first type, but never saw the second, evil, type. The human violence is more complicated than Lorenz thought. It is impossible understand this theme only studying ducks and rats. To understand the human behavior it's necessary study history, psychology and religion, as Fromm did.

If you are interested in the human violence you must read two great books of Erich Fromm: "Escape from Freedom" and "Anatomy of Human Destructiveness".
Richard Dawkins is another writer who, in his book "The Selfish Gene", has made critics to Lorenz's positive vision of violence postulated in "On Aggression".
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