PrimarySourcesChapter1_011232 - Margaret Mead, from...

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Margaret Mead, from "Warfare is Only an Invention—Not a Biological Necessity" Margaret Mead (1901-1978 CE) was an American anthropologist who made her fame studying cultures in the South Pacific. Her work compares child-rearing practices in different societies. In her classic books Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) and Growing Up in New Guinea (1930), Mead concludes that children learn the values of their culture, so that experiences of childhood and adolescence (and other values in general) vary considerably across societies. Her 1940 essay "Warfare is Only an Invention—Not a Biological Necessity" was written while German and Japanese fascists were overrunning large parts of Eurasia. Source: Mead, Margaret. "Warfare is Only an Invention—Not a Biological Necessity," ASIA, XL 1940. Focus Questions: 1. According to Mead, what are the causes and types of violence? 2. What is the difference between violence and war? Is war a biological necessity, a sociological inevitability, or just a bad invention? Those who argue for the first view endow man with such pugnacious instincts that some outlet in aggressive behavior is necessary if man is to reach full human stature. It was this point of view which lay behind William James's famous essay, 'The Moral Equivalent of War', in which he tried to retain the warlike virtues and channel them in new directions. A similar point of view has lain behind the Soviet Union's attempt to make competition between groups rather than between individuals. A basic, competitive, aggressive, warring human nature is assumed, and those who wish to outlaw war or outlaw competitiveness merely try to find new and less socially destructive ways in which these biologically given aspects of man's nature can find expression. Then there are those who take the second view: warfare is the inevitable concomitant of the development of the state, the struggle for land and natural resources, of class societies springing not from the nature of man, but, from the nature of history. War is nevertheless inevitable unless we change our social system and outlaw classes, the struggle for power, and possessions; and in the event of our success warfare would disappear, as a symptom vanishes when the disease is cured. One may hold a sort of compromise position between these two extremes; one may claim that all aggression springs from the frustration of man's biologically determined drives and that, since all forms of culture are frustrating, it is certain each new generation will be aggressive and the aggression will find its natural and inevitable expression in race war, class war, nationalistic war, and so on. All three of these positions are very popular today among those who think seriously about the problems of war and its possible prevention, but I wish to urge another point of view, less defeatist, perhaps, than the first and third and more accurate than the second: that is, that warfare, by which I mean recognised conflict between two groups as groups, in which each
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This note was uploaded on 04/12/2011 for the course HIST 1050 taught by Professor Fuhrmann during the Spring '07 term at North Texas.

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PrimarySourcesChapter1_011232 - Margaret Mead, from...

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