War in Human Civilization
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The group calculates that Homo sapiens , based on its genetic proximity to chimpanzees and other species, should have a mortality rate from intra-species violence of about two percent. That means violence causes two out of every hundred deaths. Empirical data on violent deaths among Paleolithic humans—before the advent of agriculture and permanent settlements—also indicate that two percent died violently, according to Gomez et al. This convergence leads the researchers to conclude that human violence is at least partly genetic.
A caveat is in order: The study lumps together all forms of violence, from infanticide and executions to war between states. So its conclusions do not necessarily support the claim of the aforementioned scholars that war is innate. Just because aggression is innate does not mean war is. But even disregarding this concern, the Gomez study does not support the Hobbesian hypothesis. Hobbesians cite rates of violent death among prehistoric humans ranging from 15 percent Pinker to 25 percent LeBlanc , roughly an order of magnitude higher than the two-percent estimate of Gomez et al.
According to their data, lethal violence started declining worldwide about years ago and fell below Paleolithic levels during the last years. Unlike Pagel, author of the commentary on their study, Gomez and his colleagues are cautious in drawing conclusions, and they emphasize the uncertainties in estimates of rates of ancient bloodshed.
But they strike a Hobbesian note when commenting on the recent decline in global violence.
States, at their best, do indeed promote peace both within and beyond their borders. But during the last years states have also been responsible for horrific warfare and genocide—and the invention of weapons that can destroy civilization. But others, including American military leaders , have expressed this fatalistic conclusion. Postscript : In an upcoming column, I will post comments on the Gomez study by scholars specializing in the roots of violence.
Quitting the hominid fight club: The evidence is flimsy for innate chimpanzee—let alone human—warfare.
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War in Human Civilization
You can go to cart and save for later there. War in Human Civilization. Average rating: 5 out of 5 stars, based on 1 reviews 1 reviews. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Out of stock. Get In-Stock Alert. Delivery not available. Pickup not available. In this truly global study, Azar Gat sets out to unravel the 'riddle of war' throughout human history, from the early hunter-gatherers right through to the unconventional terrorism of the twenty-first century. About This Item We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it.
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