Re: Is Humanity Inherently Violent?

John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing (
Thu, 19 May 1994 10:25:36 +1000

In article <>, (Camilla
Cracchiolo) wrote:
> Seems to me that a lot of the work on chimps & bonobos suggest
> that both traits [competition/cooperation:JW] 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.

Why need they be hereditable traits at all? Perhaps they are just
pleiotropic effects of other traits, such as mating and childrearing
strategies. In other words, in certain social animals with certain
reproductive, resource acquisition and communicative strategies, you get a
mix of competition and cooperation. The actual mix is a function of the
type of social system.
> 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?

John Wilkins - Manager, Publishing, Monash University,
Wellington Road, Clayton, Victoria 3168 [Melbourne] Australia
Tel: (+613) 905 6009; fax: 905 6029
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