Human Pugnacity and War: Some Anticipations of Sociobiology, 1880–1919

Author: Crook, P.

Source: Biology and Philosophy, Volume 13, Number 2, April 1998 , pp. 263-288(26)

Publisher: Springer

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Almost all of the themes contained in E.O.Wilson's sociobiological writing on war and human aggression were prefigured in Anglo-American bio-social discourse, c. 1880–1919. Instinct theory – stemming from animal psychology and the genetics revolution – encouraged the belief that pugnacity had been programmed into the ancient part of the human brain as a result of evolutionary pressures dating from prehistory. War was seen to be instinct-driven, and genocidal fighting postulated as a eugenic force in early human evolution. War was explained in distinctly modern sociobiological terms as adaptive behaviour springing from territorial urges, crowding, competition for resources and reproductive advantage, ethnocentrism and pseudo-speciation.

Keywords: Darwinism; aggression; instinct; sociobiology

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of History, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 1998

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