jueves, diciembre 27, 2007

Una primera conclusión de la naturaleza de la guerra

En el séptimo capítulo de su War in human civilization, Azar Gat sintentiza las averiguaciones volcadas en la primera parte del libro. Antes de estudiar la relación de la cultura con la guerra en la segunda parte, plantea un esquema del hombre en estado de naturaleza regido por la mecánica evolutiva. Nuestro diseño biológico y las conductas adaptativas evolutivamente adquiridas todavía responden a un pasado que ocupó el 99.5% de la historia del homo sapiens, cuando éste se desempeñaba cotidianamente en el rol de cazador-recolector. Más adelante vendrá la agricultura, y con ella el sedentarismo y la civilización, que actuarán -culturalmente- sobre un modelo biológico predeterminado por cientos de miles de años de evolución.
Al estudio de este modelo se aboca Azar en los primeros 6 capítulos, con el séptimo como conclusión. Cada tanto retoma la discusión entre la que sería la concepción antropológica de Rousseau, según la cual es la civilización la que pervierte al hombre, bueno por naturaleza, y la de Hobbes que no es necesario recordar. Es díficil precisar quien tiene la razón en este debate extremado, pero Azar se inclina a sepultar la concepción del buen salvaje, habida cuenta los hallazgos antropológicos y arqueológicos de tribus que no entraron en contacto con la civilización y sin embargo luchaban entre sí.
¿Por qué motivos? Azar los explica en el cuarto capítulo: principalmente por comida (recursos, incluído territorios) y reproducción (mujeres). Los motivos raigales, directamente funcionales a la supervivencia de la individuo, su familia y la especie, interactúan con otros de carácter secundario como el deseo de dominación, adquirible por el establecimiento y posicionamiento en jerarquías, con status y honor.
La venganza es otro móvil de lucha, que sirve a los fines de castigar y disuadir. No es irracional, como se suele decir. Azar demuestra, con el modelo del dilema del prisionero, como la retaliación y la supremacía muchas veces es, vista individualmente, la opción más racional, lo que no equivale a la más beneficiosa para todos o si quiera para uno, por problemas asociados a escaladas incontenibles y sospechas insondables.
Azar luego explica que a menudo un móvil de la guerra primitiva es la diferencia de cosmovisiones y apreciaciones espirituales. No es raro encontrar tribus enemistadas con los dioses de sus vecinos. Los que en definitiva terminan tomando parte en el combate serán los fieles.
Se ha mencionado la causal del canibalismo, practicado por ritualismo o por atractivo nutricional, como fuente de proteína. La evolución ha tendido a abandonar la consumición de seres de la misma especie, no obstante, de la misma algunos rastros han quedado entre los hombres.
Otras razones estriban en ser la pelea una actividad lúdica, u otras veces estar movilizada por el sentido de aventura, así como el sadismo (desviación evolutiva del estímulo a dañar al adversario) y el éxtasis (el placer de las reacciones hormonales desencadenadas en la pelea, al segregar serotonina, adrenalina y dopamina).

Vamos ahora sí, con la conclusión de Azar sobre la evolución de la naturaleza humana, relativa a la lucha.

The human state of nature, examined in this part, is crucially different from the concept of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The old concept, which still underlies anthropological discussion of ‘primitive warfare’, refers to pre-state peoples, thereby lumping together hunter– gatherers and pre-state agriculturalists. However, for more than 100 years, palaeoanthropology, palaeoarchaeology, and evolutionary theory have been revealing that these two categories cannot be treated in such an indiscriminate manner. The hunter–gatherer way of life, while, of course, also evolving a great deal over the genus Homo’s two-million-year history, covers 99.5 per cent of that history. It encompasses more than 90 per cent of the history of the species Homo sapiens sapiens, depending on the particular timing of the adoption of agriculture by each group of our species, a development that in some of them, of course, never happened. Agriculture is a recent cultural invention, starting in the most pioneering groups of our species only some 10,000 years ago, and having little effect on human biology. Thus, in the light of modern scientific understanding, to speak in a meaningful manner about the human state of nature is to address human adaptations to the human natural habitats, which are responsible for the human biological inheritance. Our concept, therefore, is the evolutionary human state of nature. Primitive agriculturalists, particularly those who, similar to hunter–gatherers, lived in relatively small and dispersed groups, relied heavily on hunting for subsistence, and did not experience arable land shortage as a main somatic stress, may exhibit significant continuities with the hunter–gatherer way of life, which in many respects can make them useful for the study of the human state of nature. However, such an extension must be done with discrimination, and the similarity certainly cannot be assumed automatically.

The human state of nature is revealed to be fundamentally no different from the state of nature in general. However, what exactly either of them is has been a matter of considerable disputes. Regarding the state of nature in general, Konrad Lorenz claimed that intraspecific fighting was mostly demonstrative and stopped short of killing. He thought that this was a result of intraspecific inhibitions intended to preserve the species, and his view dominated during the 1960s and much of the 1970s. However, since then both zoological observations and evolutionary theory have turned against his thesis. It has been revealed that intraspecific killing is widespread in nature, but is mostly directed against the young who are too weak to fight back. Conspecifics are in fact each other’s main competitors, vying as they are for the same mates and resources. However, adult conspecifics are also of roughly the same order of strength and are therefore particularly dangerous to each other. Fighting generally stops when one of the sides yields, because self-preservation imposes restraint on the victor. Killing in nature is normally done against the defenceless, when the odds are heavily tilted and little risk is involved.

The argument about the human state of nature is much older, formulated in the way that it is by Hobbes and Rousseau. Concentrating on two vast pure ‘conservations’ of recently extant hunter–gatherers—the Australian continent and the American north-west coast—in which the ‘contact paradox’ with agriculturalists, civilization, or westerners can be practically eliminated, we have found that Hobbes was closer to the truth. As with other animal species, humans regularly fought among themselves in the state of nature. Thus, it was not the advent of agriculture or civilization that inaugurated warfare. During the Palaeolithic period, hunter– gatherers inhabited the richest ecological niches of the world and were not as thinly dispersed to the point of minimizing contact among them, as some of today’s marginalized hunter–gatherers are. They were never freerangers in a vast ‘common land’, but were in fact ‘restricted nomads’ within their native and jealously guarded territories. They lived in small kin groups, starting from the extended family group to the larger regional one (tribe).

Kinship predominated in determining the direction of human aggression. As the principle of ‘inclusive fitness’ or ‘kin selection’ predicts, people would tend to side with their closer kin against more remote ones. They would be willing to risk their lives in direct relation to the closeness and number of their kin who are in danger. They recognize their kin by growing up with them, living with them, being told who they are, and by all sorts of physical and behavioural similarities that they share with them. Hence, the various activations of semi-kin–group solidarity, easily replicated when the right conditions are present. For example, the famous ‘male bonding’ created in small groups of warriors has long been identified as the mainstay of troops’ cohesion and fighting spirit. Some scholars have rightly suggested that it was evolutionarily rooted in small-group solidarity, which had been necessary among Palaeolithic hunters. The only thing that must be added is that this Palaeolithic male group consisted of close kin; indeed the local group was literally composed of brethren. In sociological and anthropological parlance, they were ‘fraternal interest groups’.1 It is a sense of brotherhood of sorts that can be artificially recreated in small groups of non- (or remote) kin that intensively and comprehensively share their daily existence.

Indeed, the evolution-shaped mechanisms for identifying kin have been shown to be susceptible to misdirection under other ‘artificial’ circumstances as well. One illuminating example, often quoted in the anthropological literature, is same-group children in Israeli kibbutzim. In these communes, children used to be raised together from birth in communal nurseries rather than in their own families’ homes. It has been found that, when these children grew up, they treated each other as siblings, at least in the sense that they hardly ever intermarried. Unexpectedly, in an environment that never wished them to do so, they instinctively applied the universal, biologically rooted, taboo against incest to their pseudo-kin.2 There are other major manifestations of kin-solidarity transference. Sports teams, for example, generate intense emotions of identification, mimicking those created by the struggle of a group of one’s own people against outsiders. The sports contest fundamentally functions as a mock battle.3

In the hunter–gatherer regional group of around 500, shared culture was a distinctive mark of kinship, as well as a strong basis for social co-operation. This is the deeply engrained evolutionary root of ethnocentrism, xenophobia, patriotism, and nationalism.4 With the coming of agriculture, civilization, and modernity, as shared-culture communities expanded a thousand- and even millionfold, the sentiment of kin solidarity expanded far beyond its original evolutionary setting and scope. One’s people or nation— an extension of the original genetic cum cultural regional group—can evoke the greatest devotion, indeed, fraternity within a motherland or fatherland (the words are revealing), no matter how genetically related its members actually are (a feature that varies among modern peoples, albeit with surprising genes–culture congruity5). Individuals are genuinely prepared to risk and sacrifice themselves—not only under coercion but also voluntarily—for these large shared-culture, semi-, and sometimes pseudo- or ‘imagined’ kin groups. This is so even though the broader their concept of who their genetic cum symbolic folk are, the less can they actually influence this folk’s survival by their own self-sacrifice. The evolutionary logic of kin selection in small groups has been inflated beyond its original applicability.

This is the ‘atavistic’ element that baffled modern observers often evoke vaguely in order to explain people’s willingness to kill and get killed for seemingly remote causes. It provided an indispensable clue for understanding why, for instance, beyond all real utilitarian considerations, a Frenchman or a German was prepared to get killed for Alsace-Lorraine, the possession of which had no practical bearing on his daily life. In the great extension of culture groups and consciousness boundaries brought about by modern conditions, these provinces could be perceived by him as the close-by home territory of his immediate close-kin group. In the state of nature, this had meant possessions of essential value, evolutionarily worth risking one’s life for.

This persistence and shift of evolution-shaped behaviours in radically altered cultural settings is at the core of human historical development. Consciousness of the fact that the original conditions no longer apply often has little effect on patterns of behaviour determined by deeply engrained, evolution-shaped, proximate stimuli. To give one more simple example: people continue to exhibit a strong preference for sweet foods, even though sweetness is now ‘artificially’ added and is harmful to us, rather than being indicative of maturity and prime nutrition in fruit, as it used to be in our original evolutionary setting. The relatively recent cultural take-off and accelerating pace of human development have left our biological inheritance very little time to catch up. This does not necessarily mean that war became maladaptive when taken out of its evolution-shaped context. As we see later, nature and culture have been mixed in complex interactions throughout human history. All the same, as humanity moved away from its evolutionary state of nature, all sorts of behaviour shaped in this state, including fighting, assumed new significance and new roles that have not been fully in line with their original, evolution-shaped rationale.heritance

Conflict and fighting in the human state of nature, as in the state of nature in general, were fundamentally caused by competition. Although violence is evoked, and suppressed, by powerful emotional stimuli (which, like other stimuli, can sometimes take over), it is not a primary, ‘irresistible’ drive; it is highly tuned, both innate and optional, evolution-shaped tactics, turned on and off in response to changes in the calculus of survival and reproduction. The widespread notion that, in the extremely competitive evolutionary state of nature, fighting occurred ‘just so’ to satisfy ‘psychological’ needs— that it was essentially non-adaptive and only began to ‘pay off ’ with the coming of agriculture and the state—constitutes such a curious reversal of the evolutionary rationale as to border on the absurd. As a result of organisms’ tendency to propagate rapidly when resources are abundant, scarcity and competition are the norm in nature. Co-operation, peaceful competition, and violent conflict are variably used and intermixed—depending on the circumstances and the chances of success—to fulfil desires originally shaped by the struggle for ‘inclusive fitness’. The answer to the often-voiced puzzle of why people fight is that they fight to gain the very same things that constitute the objects of human desire in general. And throughout nature, including the human state of nature, the objects of desire are in short supply, while being vital for survival. People risk their lives in fighting—again the subject of widespread puzzlement in our societies of plenty—simply because loss and gain of the tangible and intangible goods that determine survival and reproductive success for them and their kin can be greater than the risks of fighting.

Violent conflict can be activated by competition over scarce resources. What resources were scarce and were the cause of resource stress in any particular society varied, but mostly it had to do with highly nutritious meat. Deadly violence is also regularly activated in competition over women. Although human males are less polygynous than those of some other species, they still compete over the quality and number of women whom they can have. Abduction of women, rape, accusations of adultery, and broken promises of marriage are widespread direct causes of reproductive conflict, whereas resource competition in order to be able to afford more women and children is an indirect cause as well as a direct one. As W. D. Hamilton, the doyen of modern evolutionary theory, saw: for ‘hunter–gatherers . . . to raise mean fitness in a group either new territory or outside mates have to be obtained somehow’.6 Conflict sometimes resulted in significant net gains in women and/or subsistence resources. Moreover, and this point is often missed, for evolution to work, net gains in intergroup conflict characterized by very high mortality rates are not necessary, because intergroup conflict also results in intragroup selection, as some group members on both sides get killed, decreasing the internal pressure on the resources for those who survive.From the primary somatic and reproductive aims, other, proximate and derivative, ‘second-level’, aims arise. It is not only the best providers who can subsist better and have more wives and children, but also the social arbiters within the group who can use their position to reap somatic and reproductive advantages. Hence the competition for esteem, prestige, power, and leadership, as proximate goods, which, like the primary competition itself, can also take the form of violent conflict. Again, this violence can be either direct or indirect, the latter being intended to achieve the symbolic or tangible goods that confer esteem, prestige, power, and leadership. There are highly complex interactions here, which are, however, underpinned in principle by a simple evolutionary rationale.

The fundamental state of competition and potential violent conflict produces additional causes for conflict. There is often retaliation for an offence or injury, lest it persist and become a pattern of victimization. Retaliation or ‘revenge’ is thus intended either to eliminate the rival or to re-establish deterrence against him and others by demonstrating that one is not powerless and has the means to strike back. Tit for tat may end when the balance is settled, but it may also escalate, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle of strikes and counter-strikes. Both sides then accumulate losses that are sometimes immeasurably greater than the original injuries that caused the conflict in the first place. Nevertheless, the antagonists are often locked into conflict because of all sorts of communication problems that make it difficult to reach a negotiated settlement, or because of inability to secure that the other side abides by it. In a sort of ‘prisoner’s dilemma’, their rational option under such conditions is often much inferior to their optimal one.

Similarly, in a state of potential conflict, security precautions are called for, which may take defensive as well as offensive or pre-emptive character. This ‘security dilemma’ variant of the ‘prisoner’s dilemma’ again means that the very ability of the other to attack, whether or not he actually wishes to do so, poses a threat that can force one into action. In the absence of a strong central authority, a lack of information about the other and an inability to guarantee an agreement of mutual security frequently breed suspicion, hostility, and conflict, seemingly ‘imposed’ on the sides ‘against their wishes’ and best interests. Arms races, brought about by each side’s desire to get ahead or keep abreast of the other, may produce an advantage to one side but often merely produce a ‘Red Queen effect’, by which both sides escalate their resource investment only to find themselves in the same position vis-à-vis the other. As with trees growing trunks, massive investment is enforced on the competitors simply by the reality of an unregulated competition.

Thus, in principle, two major factors correlate closely with the likely occurrence of violent conflict. The first of these is scarcity. Somatic stresses and reproductive deprivation would give rise to a more desperate and risk-taking behaviour, including violence. This is the idea expressed in the proverb that hungry wolves would beat satiated dogs. Obviously, as we saw, scarcity is partly relative. Competition—and violent conflict—can intensify where opportunities and abundance increase. Hence the significance of the second factor: the existence of societal regulatory mechanisms that would keep competition within non-violent channels. As violent behaviour, while being an innate potential, is socially learnt, either pugnacity or pacificism can be habituated by experience. Anarchic systems—either interor intrasocial—would be more violence prone and more accustomed to the use of violence. It is again for this reason that wild wolves would beat domesticated dogs.

The effect of competition and potential conflict on the lives of people in the state of nature can now be more carefully defined. As we have seen, fighting broke out from time to time and was responsible for high rates of mortality, as high as 25–30 per cent of the adult males. This does not mean that all hunter–gatherer societies were equally war-like. There were differences among them as there would later be differences in this respect among states. Still, as with states in historical times, a fundamental condition of competition and plurality made fighting a norm that very few communities could escape or fail to be prepared for, no matter what their particular inclinations. Indeed, although the notions of ‘incessant’ or ‘endemic’ fighting are thereby justified, they can be partly misleading. Although actual, active fighting was in effect sparse, it is its danger that dominated people’s lives. This idea, pointed out by Hobbes (Leviathan, 13), has also been sensed by modern anthropologists.7 In an afterthought, ‘Balancing the picture of fierceness’, that Chagnon added to later editions of his Yanomamo: The fierce people, he wrote:

First of all, the Yanomamo do not spend all or even a major fraction of their walking hours making wars on neighbors. . . . Second, warfare among the Yanomamo varies from region to region and from time to time: it is extremely intense in some areas at particular times, and almost non-existent in other areas. Even the most ‘warlike’ villages have long periods of relative peace during which time daily life is tranquil and happy. . . . On the other hand, even the least warlike villages suddenly find themselves embroiled in an active war, or the peace of the temporary tranquil is shattered by an unexpected raid.8

This is more or less the picture that we have encountered everywhere among hunger–gatherers, in the human state of nature. People sometimes live in peace with their neighbours, sometimes in conflict. Competition is widespread but varies considerably in its expression and intensity. Where it exists, it can lead to more or less amicable compromises, covertly or overtly based on mutual deterrence. Where compromise is less amicable or stable, or is not reached at all, violence can break out. Thus, no less than actual fighting, it is the threat of violent conflict that shapes people’s lives in the state of nature. Fear, mutual deterrence, and insecurity bind them to their home territory and own people, and force them to adopt precautions and never to be completely off their guard. Both among other primates and among humans, field observations and laboratory tests have demonstrated that strangers trigger an initial response of high alarm, suspicion, insecurity, and aggression.9 The stark stereotyping of aliens and, even more, enemies, painted in the darkest, most menacing shades, is an all too familiar basic human response. The worst intentions are assumed and a tremendous defensive emotional mobilization takes place. Under conditions of competition and potential conflict, the evolution-shaped response is ‘better safe than sorry’. Naturally, as the other side tends to react similarly, worst-case analyses tend to be self-fulfilling. Alarm, suspicion, insecurity, and aggression decline after a while if the strangers are observed to be non-threatening, in the sense that they are non-aggressive, or make no large claim to sharing resources, or prove ready for low-cost compromise, coexistence, or even co-operation (exchange). However, a measure of alienation and xenophobia remains.We have seen that the reality of competition and conflict breeds more competition and conflict. Competition and conflict grow from a fundamental state of scarcity, but then, because of the suspicion, insecurity, and craving for power that they create, they also feed on themselves and take on a life of their own. A competition can be won by a more efficient utilization of resources, but, paradoxically, also by investing more of the resources in the competition itself. As with trunk-growing trees or with large and muscled bodies, the competition can consume much of the resources for which it is waged. At least partly, it can thereby increase the scarcity and further intensify itself. In a conflict in particular, most if not all of the so-called defence costs or conflict costs (except for some ‘spin-off ’ effects) are in effect disbursed out of the time and resources that can be directly invested in provision. As we see later, with agriculture and accumulated resources, conflict would also directly diminish resources as each side destroyed the other’s property. However, even in the state of nature, if the antagonist is not beaten, a ‘Red Queen effect’ may be created, in which both sides may lose from the competition/conflict. Conflict cannot then even be regarded as a ‘zero-sum game’, a competition in which one’s loss is the other’s gain and vice versa. It is possible for both sides to lose; in evolutionary/reproductive terms this mainly means death of kin and decreased subsistence and reproduction for the living. However, to give up the conflict unilaterally may mean even heavier losses, so both sides may be bound by the unregulated competitive/ conflictual situation to stick to their guns until agreement for a cessation of hostilities can be reached. As people have always vaguely sensed and puzzled, conflict has rarely been confined to or proportioned by the objectives that originally brought it into being.

Competition and conflict are thus ‘real’ in the sense that they arise from genuine scarcities among evolution-shaped, self-propagating organisms and can end in vital gains for one and losses for the other; at the same time, they are often also ‘inflated’, partly self-perpetuating, and mutually damaging, because of the logic imposed on the antagonists by the conflict itself in an anarchic, unregulated environment that provides no way out from ‘prisoners’ dilemmas’ and ‘market failures’, and may mean net losses for both. In a way, this justifies both of the widely held polarized attitudes to war: the one that sees it as a serious business for serious aims and the other that is shocked by its absurdity.

Finally, a few concluding remarks on the evolutionary perspective that has underpinned our study of the human state of nature. I hope that I have been able to demonstrate that evolutionary theory, our major key for understanding nature, is vital for understanding the human state of nature, fighting in the state of nature, and human nature in general. I have no illusions, however, that I have succeeded in convincing the unconvinced. For various reasons, evolutionary theory has always stirred violent, and not always informed, opposition. Today, as it is affecting a great revival in the human sciences, evolutionary theory is often received as alien by people trained in other disciplines, some of which are academically and emotionally heavily invested in different and even contradictory ideas. Fanciful and sensational echoes of ‘sociobiology’ encountered in popular and journalistic sources often do not help its cause either.

As our only grand scientific theory for understanding nature, evolutionary theory does not ‘compete’ with scholarly constructs such as psychoanalytic theories, ‘materialism’, or ‘functionalism’; in fact, it may encompass some of their main insights within a comprehensive interpretative framework. 10 For instance, we have seen how the differing elementary drives posited by Freud, Jung, and Adler, respectively, as the underlying regulating principle for understanding human behaviour—sex, creativeness and the quest for meaning, and the craving for superiority—all come together and interact within the framework of evolutionary theory, which also provides an explanation for their otherwise mysterious origin. Similarly, evolutionary theory explains why humans, and other organisms, are indeed motivated by a desire for material goods, but treats this motive in conjunction with, rather than in isolation from, other motives, shaped together by a comprehensive reproductive and somatic rationale. Evolutionary theory explains how long-cited motives for fighting—such as Sumner’s hunger, love, vanity, and fear of superior powers—came to be and how they hang together and interconnect.

‘Functionalism’ used to be a popular approach in the social sciences, which has more recently come under criticism. It is motivated by much the same questions, and comes up with much the same answers, as evolutionary theory. It seeks to explain social phenomena as adaptive regulatory mechanisms intended to keep the system working. There is, however, a whole set of interrelated problems with this approach. Functionalism does not explain how these ‘mechanisms’ came to be, or evolved; they are simply postulated to be there. It evokes function for social phenomena without making clear who gave them this function: does it arise from a divine order, or is it embedded in other ‘sky hooks’, such as transcendent harmony supposedly existing in nature and even in society? Furthermore, why should the social system, social phenomena, and social function be permeated with a desire for equilibrium? Functionalism has difficulties with change and tends to have a static picture of reality. Thus functionalism stands things on their head or approaches them from the wrong direction. Rather than explain general social phenomena and relationships from the bottom up, by contextual interactions of living agents, it purports to explain individual action by social abstracts, particularly that of ‘stability’.11

In our subject, a cultural materialist such as Marvin Harris and a cultural ecologist such as Andrew Vayda have suggested in a functionalist vein that fighting was a demographic mechanism triggered by pressure on the resources, as well as by a surplus of men in relation to women. As we have seen, both factors—the somatic and the reproductive—are indeed central to explaining fighting, so their interpretation is very much in the right direction. It is the functionalist reasoning, rather than answers, that is misconstrued. Fighting is not one of nature’s or of society’s regulating mechanisms for contending with overpopulation; rather, it is one of the strategies that people, and other organisms, employ to gain the upper hand in response to increased competition that may arise from demographic growth. The same, incidentally, applies to Malthus’s other positive checks on over-population: famine and pestilence. These are not ‘regulating mechanisms’ embedded in nature’s design. Instead, famine is actually what happens to a population that has outgrown its means of subsistence. Similarly, a denser population is simply more vulnerable to the propagation of parasites and pathogens. Obviously, if functionalist reasoning was merely façon de parler or accepted ‘shorthand’, in the same way that we speak of organisms ‘wanting’ to increase their numbers, there would have been no problem. However, for functionalists, function is regarded as a genuine explanation rather than façon de parler.12

Some readers may fail to see the advantage of the evolutionary over the functionalist interpretation of demographic pressure, or, indeed, wonder why evolutionary theory should be presented here as different from, and superior to, any other scholarly approach to the study of humans in the state of nature. Is it because it is the ruling theory in the study of nature? If so, is this not an argument from authority rather than from the theory’s own merits? However, it is my claim that evolutionary theory has won its commanding position in the natural sciences precisely because it has been recognized to be nature’s immanent principle rather than an artificial analytical construct. Indeed, from the nineteenth century, evolutionary theory has been perceived as the only non-transcendent mechanism for explaining life’s complex design. To repeat, this mechanism is blind natural selection in which in every stage those who were endowed with the most suitable qualities for surviving and reproducing remained. There is no reason why they remained other than that they proved successful in the struggle for survival. Thus ‘success’ is not defined by any transcendent measurement but by the immanent logic of the evolutionary process.

This point needs emphasizing also in order to allay other often-voiced concerns with respect to the application of evolutionary theory to human affairs. The evolutionary logic in itself has no normative implications. It can inform us about human natural predispositions, the often ignored effects of which we would be wise to take into account but which are often variable and even contradictory. (Late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social Darwinists, on the one hand, and tabula rasa liberals, on the other, erred here in two opposite directions.) We may choose to follow such predispositions or rebel against them. There is nothing sacred or morally compelling about maximizing survival for the fittest. This is merely the blind, algorithmic mechanism of natural ‘design’. The human brain—itself a product of evolution and a powerful instrument of conscious, purposeful, and future oriented, rather than blind, design—may come up with more satisfactory arrangements.

This brings us to another widespread cause of resistance to ‘sociobiology’. This is the belief that it upholds biological determinism in a subject that is distinctively determined by human culture—that it is precisely the nonbiological element that makes humans and the human achievement what they are. Darwinism may thus be regarded as our key to understanding nature but as mostly irrelevant for understanding human society shaped by culture. In fact, historians and social scientists are much more prone to disregard the biological element in human culture than are proponents of evolutionary theory to neglect the cultural. The latter emphatically do not believe in biological determinism. While bringing to light our evolutionshaped innate genetic inheritance, they have come up with illuminating insights for explaining gene–culture interactions. For once humans had evolved agriculture, they set in train a continuous chain of developments that have taken them further and further away from their evolutionary natural way of life as hunter–gatherers. Human society has been radically transformed and staggeringly diversified. Original, evolution-shaped, innate human wants, desires, and proximate behavioural and emotional mechanisms now expressed themselves within radically altered, ‘artificial’ conditions, which were very different from those in which they had evolved. In the process, while never disappearing, they were greatly modified, assuming novel and widely varied appearances. These gene–culture interactions are the stuff from which human history is made, including the history of fighting. Indeed, it is to cultural evolution and the evolution of gene–culture interactions, as humans moved out of their evolutionary shaped state of nature, that I now turn.

3 comentarios:

Jorge S. King dijo...

Es una equivocación que la terminan pagando los inocentes.
Saludos Santiagueños.

hugo dijo...

gran capitán don marcos de catáneo quisiera hacer otra "vuelta de tuerca", sin el nivel de henry james por supuesto, sobre un tema al que vos te referís, y que no es otro que el paso del "cazador-recolector" al "agricultor sedentario", paso que supone una mejora "civilizatoria"

ahora ¿es esto realmente así?

¿no es el comercio acaso -que aparece a partir de los excedentes-una nueva forma de guerra, tal vez más sofisticada y civilizada, pero guerra al fin?

¿no son acaso las fusiones y adquisiciones de empresas, el desiderátum del capitalismo, una forma sofisticada de caza, especialmente en el caso de las ofertas hostiles -verdaderas declaraciones de guerra en sí mismas-?

recuerdo que en la película wall street, un fresco de las finanzas de los años 80, michael douglas, el protagonista, recitaba, como fuente de su accionar como comprador hostil de empresas, párrafos de "el arte de la guerra" de sun tzu, obra que se podía encontrtar por aquellos tiempos en todas las librerías de la city porteña.-

CLAUDE dijo...

Me interesó el caso de los chicos israelíes criados en guarderías comunales junto a otros chicos que no eran sus hermanos pero con los cuales desarrollaban un vínculo como el de hermanos, evitando el matrimonio y aplicando, “en un ambiente que nunca quiso que actuaran así”, el tabú contra el incesto.
La idea del autor de que este tabú está “biológicamente enraizado” y es “universal” y se cumple “instintivamente” sacaría de quicio a más de un filosofastro iconoclasta.