Tag Archives: Ashley Montagu

Are Human Beings Violent By Nature?

One of the big issues pacifists face today is the issue of human nature. Are we genetically determined to be violent as expressed in much contemporary writing by biologists, et al, as well as political thinkers? If so, is pacifism simply unrealistic, terribly naive, even problematically romantic?

Or is it possible, with scientific credibility, anchored in the actual experience of human beings in the world, to argue for an understanding of human nature more compatible with pacifism?

This debate deserves the attention of all people concerned with the problems of violence, oppression, warfare, and militarism in our world today—that is, all people of good will. I spent significant time a number of years ago reflecting on these issues, teaching a class called “Violence and Human Nature” several times. In March 2006, I arranged a public forum with my friend Carl Keener, professor of biology emeritus, at Eastern Mennonite University. Here is the presentation I made. I hope to give this issue more attention in the not-too-distant future. Continue reading