Human Nature and War Analysis essay

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Many people in the world feel that people ought to live at peace with one another. The society is structured to promote this peace. In fact, in every society, there are rules that guide the interaction of people in the society. These rules give incentives and punishments to people who succeed or fail to adhere to the set norms. However, this does not apply always, and some people, including groups of people, go against this principle, and they start warring with other people or groups of people. This made the International Relation Theorists seek to understand this phenomenon. These theorists follow the sentiments of two groups of thinkers. The first group of thinkers, the Human Nature Theorists, believes that people are born with capacities for violent behavior. Therefore, these people (constituting the state) become the channels through which the innate violence is released. The second group of thinkers, the Cognitive Theorists, believes that people can either learn or unlearn violence. They believe that humans are influenced by the environment in which they grow. The Cognitive Theorists are more credible than Human Relation Theorists. People adapt to the environment within which they are nurtured, and they reflect the behavior, values, beliefs and lifestyles that are prevalent in that society (Rosen, 2007).

Human Nature Theory

Human Nature Theorists believe that violence is innate in people. People are violent in nature, and they just bring out the traits in them when they act violently. These theorists believe that it is impossible to change this character. They explain this theory by citing that many societies find pleasure in violent activities that could even lead to death. Such activities include violent games, movies, novels and other related media that people use for entertainment. For instance, one theorist says that people enjoy these activities since they place a lot of value to violence. These people come from a certain geographical area that makes up a state, and this state is characterized by violence since people who live there are violent beings. This theory has a lot of supporters. These theorists have come up with different ideas that support this theory (Rosen, 2007).

Human Nature Theorists

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker is known for his criticisms of the theory that humans are born as empty slates (as proposed by the empiricists). Pinker also refuted the idea that human beings are noble savages that are corrupted by the society. Some behaviorists claim that human beings are born free of corruption, but their interaction with the society corrupts the minds. These theorists continue to say that human beings are powerless to control the influence of the society, and humans are passive recipients of the society’s corrupt ideas. Pinker also refutes the idea that the soul makes choices on behalf of the person. This idea was proposed by psychologists who referred to the soul as the ghost (soul) in a machine (man). Therefore, the soul makes choices that control the body. Pinker says that this theory is untrue since it does not account for a lot of things that affect the lives of people (Pinker, 2011).

Pinker came up with his own explanations of human orientations to things that shape people’s minds in the world; he looks at the past of humans, and he says that humans are evil beings with orientations to violence. Pinker says that the history of humans depicts the violent nature of these beings. For instance, Pinker cites the many incidences of violence that history has experienced. People take violence as a form of violence, and some people are even killed in these entertainments. Slavery was also used to provide labor for the growing industrialization, and this undermined humanity. He also cites tings such as rape, genocide, terrorism and assassinations as explanations to the evil nature of human beings. Therefore, Pinker remains convinced that humans have some innate characteristics of violence; thus, when people become violent, they are just bringing out their evil nature into being.

E.O. Wilson

Wilson is known as the founding father of Sociobiology, a discipline that tries to explain human behavior in the context of scientific research. In his book, Sociobiology, Wilson explains that the behaviors of humans are genetically programmed to make them survive. In this light, Wilson seems to be saying that the survival of human beings is genetic, and whatever human beings do so as to survive is coded in their systems. Therefore, humans who kill in order to survive do so because they want to protect their survival using all manners and options available.

Wilson said that the self destructive behaviors of human beings are innate, and they are geared towards their survival. However, this is not the same case as put forward by the Darwinian Theory of survival for the fittest. In Wilson’s theory, human beings work to make closely related people carry on the genes fit for survival. Wilson explained the seemingly inconsistencies of this theory using the theory of kin selection. According to this manner of thought, altruistic persons could come out triumphant since the genes that they (Altruistic individuals) share with relatives would be transmitted. The entire clan is integrated in the genetic conquest of a few people, and the phenomenon of favorable altruism came to be referred to as inclusive fitness. This theory developed very fast, and by the 1990s it was one of the core concepts of biology, sociology, and pop psychology (Naour, 2009).

People resisted Wilson’s idea that human nature is genetically determined a lot, but they came to accept these sentiments. People noted that humans have a soft spot for relatives, and this theory has been used to explain nepotism in work the place, schools and other social institutions. However, Wilson (of late) has denounced the theory, and he has faced a lot of criticisms.

John Stoessinger

John Stoessinger is very famous for his book Why Nations Go to War. In this book, John Stoessinger looks at the wars that have rocked the world in history, and he tries to explain the concepts of human nature form this wars. In this book, John Stoessinger seems to be blaming individuals for these uprisings. For instance, Stoessinger blames Sadam Hussein, Hitler, and other leaders who seemed to advocate for war. The author makes it appear like the leaders were the sole responsible agents for these wars, and the citizens did not have much to do with the wars.

Stoessinger believed that these leaders were insane from the beginning, and they engaged in wars because they wanted to do so. These leaders just wanted to actualize their fantasies in war and they did this through fighting with other nations. The author of this book shows that leaders considered bad started projects that threatened the existence of other people. For instance, some leaders like Hitler wanted to kill all Jews and people of “inferior” races so as to remain in a world full of “pure” people. However, the concept of purity is problematic since Hitler sought to do this through killing. Therefore, some people thought that this was good, but the rest of the world felt that this was bad for the world. They said that Hitler was a terrorist. Other leaders started projects to make nuclear weapons that could destroy the whole world. These people did this because they were evil (Stoessinger, 2010).

Therefore, according to Stoessinger, the reason that many nations go to war is that many leaders are evil. The suffering of the people in the wars outlined in this book resulted from the decisions of the leaders. These leaders are the mirrors of the society, and according to Stoessinger, the people in the society are evil; this is the reason they fight and kill each other.


Lorenz believes that humans are prone to errors and these errors determine the lies that people tell. This is because some errors result to either good or bad lives of the people. Lorenz says that humans’ errors cause the inconsistencies in the world, and these inconsistencies make people have different opinions that result to different views of things. This leads to violence since people believe that their views are superior to those of other people.

Lorenz attributes the violence to the activities of humans. Humans always seek for happiness, and they believe that this happiness should come before anything else. Therefore, people are ready to react to violence whenever this happiness is threatened. In fact, Lorenz cites many examples (in the past) that led people to war. People reacted violently to things that did not favor them. This is because their happiness stood to be compromised and they could not let this happen. Therefore, the violence evident in Lorenz’s ideas was brought about by people’s internal capacities that led them to this.

Michael Ghiglieri

Michael Ghiglieri believes that human behavior is linked to biological constituents of human beings. He argues that human beings follow the behaviors of other primates. In this line, he observed that chimpanzees, which are primates (like men), have violent behavior; therefore, humans are also violent. Michael Ghiglieri’s views human beings as savages whose behavior is controlled by internal instincts.

Michael Ghiglieri also argued that people’s orientation to primitive behaviors cannot be helped. This is because their actions and orientations to natural existence are deeply ingrained in their DNA. Therefore, it is impossible to remove these traits from human beings. For instance, chimpanzees are violent animals. They are related to human beings (they are both primates); Michael Ghiglieri used this as a proof that human beings are violent since they are related to chimps (which are violent). This shows the helpless nature of humans as far as their actions are concerned.

Michael Ghiglieri also classified humans depending on their levels of savagery. He said that people in the high class are less savage than people in the low classes. Therefore, people in the lower class will reflect high degrees of violence than people in the high class. Michael Ghiglieri justified this by saying that people in the low class are the ones who participate in demonstrations and riots, and they turn violent when not allowed to hold such acts. Michael continued to say that people in the low classes are fond of forming unruly groups, and they disobey the set authority. These unruly groups terrorize other people since they participate in actions such as strikes, theft and other related behavior. Michael also said that these people are also characterized by acts such as mob justice, lynching and other related acts. Michael Ghiglieri continues to say that the only difference that men has from apes is that humans have been able to build institutions that control people. Otherwise, they are just as savage as the apes.

However, Michael Ghiglieri does not consider other factors that may make men violent. He does not consider factors such as disagreements in the society. Therefore, people have rejected Michael’s views on savagery. In fact, many researchers have said that Michael Ghiglieri’s theory can never be applicable in the modern world of science (Rosen, 2007).

Human nature refers to things that involve the distinctive personality of a person. These things include aspects such as manners of thinking, emotional levels and human behavior that humans display in nature. This view has inspired many researchers, and these researchers have sought to address these issues. As a result, a lot of theories have been presented to explain such things as to why humans have a lot of differences; they do not share the same perspectives of viewing things. People who follow the cognitive viewpoints refer to this as development of concepts that can be applied to individuals, groups or other organizations that feature people from different groups. The studies of Peace deal with recognition and examination of violent and non-violent orientations (Matyok, 2011).

Researchers in this field figured out that war has two sides, and both sides stand to lose. Human beings are aware of this fact, but they still engage in war. Therefore, researchers in this field saw war as a human choice rather than an inevitable phenomenon. In this light, countries have a choice of going to war or not. They either choose war as a means of solving a conflict or looking for other means of rectifying disagreements between nations. The ideas of peace studies view war as human behavior that is driven by the choice of human beings. Therefore, pacifists believe that nations can avoid war and use peaceful means to resolve conflicts. In this light, pacifists advocate for mediators, good policies and good governance that will lead nations in to peace, not war. Theorists in this area denounce war and they believe that there are some moral grounds that can prevent nations from going into war. These theorists also advocate for the dissolution of armed forces and institutions that view violence as a means of achieving peace (Matyok, 2011). In fact, peace studies claim that there can never be winners in war; both sides lose a lot. This is because the cost of war is enormous and both sides are victims of this. Both sides lose property, citizens, institutions, and they suffer a lot of psychological anguish. This makes theorists aligned to peace studies view war as a catastrophe that should be avoided. They feel that no reasons can be used to justify war.

Peace Study Theorists

Lewis Fry Richardson

This researcher pioneered the field of peace research. He carried out studies that were later to be used as models to researchers in this field. In fact, his studies make the biggest collection of studies related to peace. For instance, he carried out studies on Arms and Security and Statistics of Deadly Quarrels. These studies revealed that mathematical techniques of modeling and analysis of statistics could be used to investigate queries relating to peace and war.

Fry’s studies and his collection on conflicts that lead to deaths (deadly quarrels) have influenced many researchers in the field of peace studies. Thus, these studies have continued to be a source of datum for people carrying out research in peace studies and related works. Fry Richardson's research indicates many areas that are difficult and limit people’s understanding. However, his ideas are clear and, apart from the statistical data, the explanations given are very clear.

Lewis Fry Richardson believes that war is not intrinsic in human beings, but humans construct situations that lead to war. In his ideas, children are not born violent, but they make some violent choices. The society nurtures its children to reflect the cultures, beliefs, ideologies and lifestyles of that society. All societies advocate for peace, but some elements in that society feel that their peace is threatened by some groups of people or some organizations. Therefore, these societies instill some protective measures that lead to war. Therefore, according to Lewis Fry Richardson, war comes as a consequence of society’s need to protect itself; war is not an instinct a person gets at birth.

Lewis Fry Richardson felt that the density of war was determined by the amount of arms and the tension between the two (or more) warring nations; it had nothing to do with abilities of human’s natural feel for war. Therefore, Lewis Fry Richardson advocated that all nations should get rid of weapons; this will ensure that peace prevails in the world.

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is an American scholar known for his contributions in writing about American history. Before he became a scholar, he was in the army and carried out some bombing assignments in cities like Berlin. These assignments inspired Howard to write about war, and he wrote a lot of works related to war affairs. He advocated for war to nations that did not value democracy, and he felt that this war was justified since it served to liberate its citizens. During this time, Howard Zinn did not have any objections for war; he felt that it was used to serve the goods of all people.

However, after some time, Howard Zinn changed his perceptions of war. In fact, he led a group of people to push America to end the war in Vietnam. He felt that it was an aggression towards Vietnam, and America needed to pull out without giving any conditions. He felt that the Vietnamese were entitled to own rule, and America needed to respect that. Howard met with some Vietnamese, and he was prepared to negotiate the withdrawal of American forces from the country.

Zinn’s ideas were driven by his belief that war brought a lot of problems to all people. He said that war was a human creation, and people could either make or break war. He felt that America was wrong to attack Vietnam since there was still room for negotiation to end the tension in Vietnam. He also used humanistic sentiments to refute the war. He said that a lot of Americans as well of innocent Vietnamese underwent a lot of suffering. Americans were losing their sons and daughters in war, and Vietnamese were losing their relatives in the crossfire. Zinn was also involved in antiwar marches, and he addressed people on the need to end the war. He called for peaceful resolution of conflicts since he believed that men made war, and men could undo these choices (Zinn, 2005).

David Grossman

David Grossman is an Israeli novelist, and he advocates for the country’s moral conscience. He feels that all nations should remain peaceful, and negotiations should be made to ensure that there is no war. He feels that war leads to a lot of unpredictable things that could affect a lot of people.

David Grossman wrote against the impending war on Iran by America and Israel. He felt that this war could spark a lot of retaliatory attacks, and this could harm the whole world. He said that he did not support Iran’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons, but he also said that war should not be used to end such threats. David figured out that, in case Israel attacks Iran, Iranians will back their maniacal leaders, and a lot of violence will be directed towards Israel. He says that Iran’s nuclear program is a very big threat, but attacking Iran will be a backbone to retaliatory attacks. This is because Iran will find a course for revenge, and this revenge will be driven by motivations of retaliation.

David Grossman also feels that destroying nuclear facilities in Iran will not be effective since Iran has a lot of experts in nuclear science. These experts can still launch other facilities to continue producing nuclear weapons. They will do this with a sole purpose of attacking Israel. Their efforts will have motivations, and all the people of Iran will support Iran in attacking Israel. This will pose a lot of threat to the whole world. David Grossman feels that Israel and US should seek for other means of solving the Iranian nuclear crises. They should seek for a means that will not threaten the lives of people. They should also use a method that will make the people of Iran have confidence in the methods used to end the nuclear crises.

According to this view, people’s orientations to violence are inspired by incidences in the history of those people. For instance, the Israeli prime minister feels that Israel has undergone a lot of horrors in the past, and it is right to use violence to avoid future horrors.

Kahan and Post

Kahan and Post also advocated for peace in their writings. These researchers said that people should take mistakes of the past as examples and construct a society that is characterized by peace. The two said that humans are wary of past mistakes, and they try to avoid occurrences that are traumatic to the people. They said that humans are not born evil, but the environment within which they live provide the incentive for violence. They argued that humans seek to rectify mistakes of their past through making their future secure. Therefore, humans are not evil since they seek to make a society that does not engage in war. They also said that war comes as a result of many disagreements between governments or people in authority. Therefore, they said that only a few people discuss and go in to war on behalf of the nation. In most cases, all people who are supposedly represented by these leaders do not support the sentiments of war.

James Fahey

At first, this man was not considered a writer; he was just a sailor who kept a daily diary of the war in Vietnam. He kept daily accounts of the war in Vietnam, and he describes the horrors experienced in this war.

Fahey’s diary details the horrors experienced in fighting, the deaths and suffering of the people; he seems to advocate for alternative means of resolving these conflicts. Fahey documented his diaries though it was illegal to do this. Perhaps, this was an attempt to cover the horrors experienced in war. However, Fahey’s writing has helped people advocate for alternative means for resolving conflicts. Fahey’s diaries have also been documented in books, and they have helped to document horrors of war. These sentiments make some of the ideas that are used to talk against war.

Floyd Rudmin

Floyd Rudmin believes that nations fight in order to protect their territories. He believes that people feel that they are threatened by other nations, and they take the war as a means of defending themselves. Thus, all sides of the war have similar justifications of the reasons for war.

Floyd Rudmin says that he changed his perceptions of war since he desired his kids to boast a good life; life without threats of nuclear war. In the same line, he argues that Israel, America and other countries want their citizens to have peaceful lives. However, these countries engage in war, and they end up killing a lot of people. Floyd Rudmin feels that it is wrong to use war to end terrorism since war tends to advance terrorism. Therefore, he acted against Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan. He feels that people should use other means to end the war.

Soldiers of Conscience

This film shows the dilemma in which soldiers find themselves in war. Some soldiers find it their duty to kill in war while others feel that they should not terminate human life. This acts as a clear proof that human beings are not born with killing instincts neither are they born with capacities to violence. The society dictates the life that a person is to lead. For instance, the soldiers in this film have taken an oath to protect their nation, but some soldiers, because of their human instincts, feel that it is wrong to terminate the lives of fellow humans (Castelnuovo, 2008).


According to the arguments of the two groups of thinkers, Peace Study theorists are more credible. This is because they have a lot of proof to show for their ideas. Whereas the first group of thinkers relies much on theories, the second group relies on the happenings in the society to advance their arguments. Their arguments are also credible in that people, in the society, seem to avoid war that threatens their existence. Human beings are not violent by nature, and they seek to avoid violence at all costs. However, they carry out violent activities so as to maintain their own peace. The peace Study theorists also provide the best remedy of ensuring that peace prevails in the world. Therefore, these factors make theorists aligned to peace theories more credible than Human Nature Theorists.

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