Dark S Ide Of Man Notes And Summary

2855 words - 11 pages

THE DARK SIDE OF MAN: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence, by Michael P. Ghiglieri; Perseus, 1999;[p. 179] "The central 'truth' of sociologists is that nature, especially that of humankind, is nice and that people are designed to do things that, all in all, favor the survival of their species. Hence people could never be equipped by nature with instincts to kill other people. This idea comes from the Bambi school of biology, a Disneyesque vision of nature as a collection of moralistic and altruistic creatures. It admires nature for its harmony and beauty of form and for its apparent 'balance' or even cooperativeness. It admires the deer for its beauty and fleetness, and it grudgingly admires the lion for its power and nobility of form. If anything is really wrong with us, it explains, it is a sociocultural problem that we can fix by resocializing people. It is not a biological problem."Nature, however, is actually a dynamic state of recurring strife of relentless competition, dedicated predators and parasites, and selfish defense. The deer owes its beauty and fleetness to predators such as mountain lions, which kill the clumsiest and slowest deer first; to competitors for food; and to competition between males to mate. Without predators, deer would not only lack fleetness; they would lack legs altogether. They would be slugs oozing from one plant to another. Yet even if these deer-slugs were the only animals out there, natural selection would favor the evolution of faster and more aggressive deer-slugs and would favor any other trait that made them superior competitors against each other. This would include the killing of one deer-slug by another in situations where it boiled down to kill or die."Moreover, the power and noble visage of the lion (or of the family cat or dog, for that matter) rest entirely on natural selection having shaped not only a fleet predator and efficient killing machine but also a very violent competitor against its own kind in situations where the options were narrowed to exclude or kill, or else kill to survive or reproduce."Michael Ghiglieri studies the roots of male violence from a unique vantage: he's a former combat soldier and longtime primate researcher, a protégé of Jane Goodall. In The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Violence, Ghiglieri uses this background, accompanied by copious scientific and statistical evidence, to construct an explanation of male violence that is often at odds with popular preconceptions.Central to Ghiglieri's argument is that violence is a deeply entrenched behavioral strategy--especially among males--that simply emerges when other strategies fail, a thesis he reinforces convincingly with both anecdotes and hard numbers. And while he recognizes that culture and socialization play important roles in encouraging violence, he maintains that ignoring the powerful biological and evolutionary forces at work is "the single most useless--and dangerous--approach one could...

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