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War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views [Hardcover]

Douglas P. Fry

Price: £64.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

25 April 2013 0199858993 978-0199858996
Have humans always waged war? Is warring an ancient evolutionary adaptation or a relatively recent behavior—and what does that tell us about human nature? In War, Peace, and Human Nature, editor Douglas P. Fry brings together leading experts in evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and primatology to answer fundamental questions about peace, conflict, and human nature in an evolutionary context. The essays in this book demonstrate that humans clearly have the capacity to make war, but since war is absent in some cultures, it cannot be viewed as a human universal. And the archaeological record reveals the recent emergence of war. It does not typify the ancestral type of human society, the nomadic forager band, and contrary to widespread assumptions, there is little support for the idea that war is ancient or an evolved adaptation. This book shows that views of human nature as inherently warlike stem not from the facts but from cultural views embedded in Western ways of thinking.

Drawing upon evolutionary and ecological models; the archaeological record of the origins of war; nomadic forager societies past and present; the value and limitations of primate analogies; and the evolution of agonism and restraint; the essays in this interdisciplinary volume refute many popular generalizations and effectively bring scientific objectivity to the culturally and historically controversial subjects of war, peace, and human nature.

'This encyclopedic collection of excellent, wide-ranging, and myth-busting essays by renowned scholars should be required reading for anyone interested in how we came to be who we are and the future of humankind. A much-needed paradigm shift is in the making because of the increased recognition that we are not inherently destructive and competitive beings. This remarkable book will facilitate this transition as we expand our compassion footprint and give peace the chance it deserves. Cooperation, empathy, and peace will prevail if we allow them to.'
— Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons For Expanding Our Compassion Footprint

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"There can hardly be a more urgent task than to understand 'the causes of war and the potential for peace, ' the guiding theme of this illuminating collection, drawing from a rich and varied array of sources. These deeply researched studies provide thoughtful and provocative insights into how we might at last be able achieve the promise of the UN Charter, 'to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, ' a recent innovation in human history, and not an ineradicable curse."-Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "This encyclopedic collection of excellent, wide-ranging, and myth-busting essays by renowned scholars should be required reading for anyone interested in how we came to be who we are and the future of humankind. A much-needed paradigm shift is in the making because of the increased recognition that we are not inherently destructive and competitive beings. This remarkable book will facilitate this transition as we expand our compassion footprint and give peace the chance it deserves. Cooperation, empathy, and peace will prevail if we allow them to."-Marc Bekoff, author of The Emotional Lives ofAnimals, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals, and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint"Douglas Fry has produced another pioneering book of the highest quality and relevance. A distinguished international and interdisciplinary group of authors address the elusive concept of human nature in relation to war and peace rigorously marshalling clear reason and hard data. Together they systematically and effectively critique the Western cultural myth of the natural inevitability of war while also demonstrating that peace rather than war is ubiquitous. Moreover, practical ways are revealed for creating a more secure and peaceful world."-Leslie E. Sponsel, author of SpiritualEcology: A Quiet Revolution

About the Author

Douglas P. Fry is co-director of the joint master's program in Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research at Åbo Akademi University in Vasa, Finland and an adjunct research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. Fry is author of Beyond War (2007, Oxford) and The Human Potential for Peace (2006, Oxford).

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book 8 Jan 2014
By Riane Eisler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
War, Peace, and Human Nature is an exceptionally important contribution to the debate about whether or not warfare is just human nature. Starting with Frans de Waal's rousing introduction, it is also a breath of fresh air in the often stuffy corridors of academic writing: fascinating, highly accessible, and occasionally humorous.

For decades, the common wisdom has been that war goes back to the dawn of our species, and even before that, to our primate ancestors. In this veritable encyclopedia of information, Douglas P.Fry brings together evidence examining this assumption in the light of evolutionary biology, animal ethology, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. The result is a compelling work that shows that, far from being "wired" into our genes, warfare is a recent social invention. The section on gathering-hunting groups (of particular relevance since over millennia our ancestors foraged for food) likewise shows that the notion that warfare is ancient and universal is not supported by the evidence.

War, Peace, and Human Nature also looks at violence within groups, and of particular interest, though this is only addressed in passing, is how gender roles and relations are structured. For example, among our closest primate relatives, in sharp contrast to the male-dominated chimpanzees, alliances of females lie behind the lack of lethal violence among bonobos. Several studies report that women are often peacemakers in potentially lethal quarrels between males in contemporary foraging societies. And in societies with very low rates of violence, such as the Malaysian Batek, women are not subordinate to men. In sum, this fascinating book is a treasure trove of information for everyone interested in what makes for more peaceful ways of living in our past, present, and potential future.
Riane Eisler
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also for those interested in egalitarian societies. 28 April 2013
By Dg. Batt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book seems to be written for an academic audience, a bit of a pity as its aim of refuting the smug self-serving fantasy that man is inherently war-like is urgent and is up against a lot of hollywood style propaganda aimed at a mass audience. The current History Channel series "Mankind. The story of all of us" which just seems to be a relentless barage of violence & expensive, cinematography falls into this category in my opinion.

But I'm not an academic & I enjoyed it. I was especially interested in the fact that peaceful societies seem to be pretty egalitarian & am mainly writing this review for people interested in egalitarianism or the possiblity of civilised anarchism. I was especially interested in the chapter on the Moriori of New Zealand who evolved from a war-like hierarchical society into a peaceful, leaderless, egalitarian one ( unfortunately not all of this was due to conscious decisions, not necessarily an easy process to replicate). Also probably worth noting they were easily wiped out, a cautionary tale for egalitarians perhaps.

It's worth noting that that the books focus is war, it is not necessarily concerned with the the absence of all forms of violence. That would explain why the conclusion endorses the European Union as an agent of peace, I'd say many people would question that now with violence between protesters & police, increased mortality form mass unemployment, illness/death inducing stress levels, over-indulgence in deadly stress-reducing food & drugs, increased crime etc etc. True there might have been a real war if there was no EU(we'll never know) but the casualty rate would probably be the same, the EU is not an official war but is violent all the same. I'm sure the editor is on the right track saying we need extra-state, continental, global, organisations to allow for the florishing of peace but I still don't feel I have much idea of what they'd look like.
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