Re: Is Humanity Inherently Violent?

Camilla Cracchiolo (
Fri, 13 May 1994 07:49:59 GMT

John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing ( wrote:

: > You're reviving the old argument between Lewis Leakey and
: > Raymond Dart about the origins of man's social behaviour!
: > I think that's a lot more promising as a subject than AAH.
: > Richard Leakey's "People of the Lake" (about his studies
: > of the site at lake Turkana) argues that cooperation as
: > a human ethic MUST antedate competition. Let's hear more..

: Why must cooperation or competition antedate each other at all? Eg, which
: came first: heart or liver? Surely traits can codevelop, as can behavioural
: patterns. In fact, I strongly suspect that the axis compete<-->cooperate
: represents a possibility space for a mixed strategy population, so that
: cooperation and competition will coexist anyway. Why must humans "be"
: violent or non-violent, any moer than they must "be" carnivores or
: herbivores?

Seems to me that a lot of the work on chimps & bonobos suggest
that both traits coexist in them. This suggests to me that
both traits may well have existed in our common ancestors,
or at least in very early human lines.

My understanding is that
35% of human societies (an estimate, I imagine figures vary)
do not or have not practiced war. The majority of societies
seen to have cooperation within the group and competition
directed towards other groups, with many societies being
hierarchical and thus there is some competition for status
within the group as well.

A more useful question would be: what conditions foster cooperation
and peacemaking among humans, and which conditions foster competition,
particularly violent competition and warfare? Also, which
conditions foster high degrees of hierarchy and which low degrees?


Camilla Cracchiolo, RN Los Angeles, CA

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