Re: Civilized?

Matthew Hill (mhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Tue, 13 Dec 1994 08:47:23 -0500

On Mon, 12 Dec 1994, Sherwin P. Hicks wrote:

> The other day I was in a conversation regarding the relationship between
> technological advancement and violence. The main focus of the debate concerned
> the definition of the term "civilized" and whether being "civilized" is granted
> by the benefits of technological advancement. If this were the case --"civil-
> ized" through advancing technology --how would one explain the increase in
> violence in American culture?
> Is there a correlation between a progressive rate of psychological development
> and a decreasing rate of aggression? Isn't it true that humans are
> supposed to exhibit less aggression as "civilized" beings? How would this
> relate to "evolution and learning" in human existence?
> I would be interested to see the replies listed in the open forum to see all
> any and all angles on this subject.
> Sherwin P. Hicks
> <v935cf54>

I am not sure what a 'progressive rate of psychological development' is
supposed to mean, but I will leave it at that. My impression is that
beginning about 30 years ago there was a vast anthropological repudiation
of the 'primitives red in tooth and tool' viewpoint in favour of seeing
the simplest of modern human societies as 'the harmless people' to cadge
E. M. Thomas title.

I believe there has been a reaction to this point of
view, but I suspect that a large proportion of anthropologists would find
dubious the idea that 'civilization' brings non-aggresiveness in its wake.
Certainly the recent discussion of 'primitive war' in this venue showed a
strong (though probably mistaken) belief that war at least demands

"How would one explain the increase in violence in American Culture?"
seems to me to contain the answer in the question.