Saturday, 29 November 2014

Is Nature Right? Is War Natural?

'Are Human Beings Naturally Violent and Warlike?' we are asked in an article of the War and Peace issue of  Philosophy Now (Nov/Dec Issue, 2014). 'Not necessarily,' says David P. Barash.

Barash goes on to say that '...the ‘war is in our genes’ perspective is not only scientifically invalid but ethically suspect' (2014). Barash (2014) considers '...the connection between expectation and reality becomes complex, because of the risk that theories of human nature feed directly into people being liable to modify their behavior (although not their ‘nature’) as a result.'  

Barash (2014) asks us to imagine a miltary group in country A convinced of country B's 'warproneness' refusal to get involved in negotiations instead planning for war which in turn has the same reaction from country B. The 'danger' being, he says of 'assuming that Homo sapiens has a natural instinct for war is that it can become a highly destructive self-fulfilling prophecy, not only closing off possible avenues of peaceful conflict resolution, but actually making war more likely' (Barash, 2014).

As Barash maintains '...a capacity is a far cry from a necessity...' (2014). He is 'an optimist' and a 'believer in the power of human cultural self-direction to espouse not only the desirability of peace but also its feasibility' (ibid). However this does rely upon, he contends, people freeing themselves 'from the cynical, self-deceiving, and indeed scientifically unsupportable presumption that our species is biologically doomed to unceasing violence'(ibid).
  
Wenden (2013) speaks of 'the ethical dimension, the absence of which leads to a gap between right thinking and responsible action'.

Barash (2014) tells the story about a girl who asks her Grandfather what her dream about two wolves fighting means. He tells her that they are inside everyone, and one is peaceful and one is not. When she asks him which wolf wins, he tells her its the one that you feed!

Einstein, as quoted in The Meanings of Peace, said: 

We need an essentially new way of thinking if mankind is to survive. Men must radically change their attitudes toward each other and their views of the future. Force must no longer be an instrument of politics. Today, we do not have much time left; it is up to our generation to succeed in thinking differently. If we fail, the days of civilized humanity are numbered.

52 Quotes on War and Peace

Barash, P, (2014) Are Humans Naturally Violent and Warlike? November/December Issue, Philosophy Now
Wenden, A. L. (2013) Raising the bar for peace and sustainability educators: an educational response to the implementation gap, Special Issue: Greening Peace and Sustaining Justice, Volume 11, Issue 3, Journal of Peace Education

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