bobby1933 (bobby1933) wrote,

The Better Angels or Demons of my Nature

"I am sure of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination." -- John Keats

When i began teaching in 1967, there was a fairly large sub culture within the social science professions which accepted the thesis of the gentleness and peacefulness of our hunter gatherer ancestors..  I soon became a part of that subculture and used that gentle savage assumption as the basis for much of my research, theorizing, and teaching on the subject of human violence.  Later, and especially since my retirement, there has been a tendency to reject the gentle savage idea and return, hopefully with new evidence, to the older theory that civilization tames human violence.  In fact, it is now alleged that our species is enjoying the most non-violent period of its existence.  In the twentieth century only three percent of human deaths were caused by human violence.  By contrast, five times that many people were killed by human violence in hunter-gatherer societies of the past.

My commitment of a the notion of the non-violence of early human is a product of bias and imaginative adventuring, and i have always admitted that.  It led to anarcho-primitivism as a personal philosophy and the sermon on the mount as my ethical guide.  Further more, because "they" had it right and "we" have it wrong, all of our efforts to curb violence will fail unless we seriously consider what we can learn from hunter-gatherers.

If the "Better Angels or our Nature" investigators have the facts, they have the facts.  That is the neat thing about science.  But the advocates of primitive violence thought they had the facts before; every time they have let their biases show and ignored contradictory evidence.  Most of all, they have failed to use their imaginations to construct research designs that might actually shed some light on the subject.

Nonkilling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Edit:  It turns out that the author of The Better Angels of our Nature, is not actually a social scientist in the usual sense of the word.  He is a an "evolutionary psychologist" which means he is more likely interested in genes than culture, brain than mind, and social control than social understanding. imppo)
Tags: perspective on "history", violence
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