Man and Aggression - Ashley Montagu

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On Montagu


From the Introduction

The purpose of this book is to inquire into the validity of the views on human nature expressed in the widely read and influential books of Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz. Ardrey’s books are  African Genesis(Atheneum, 1961), and  The Territorial Imperative. Lorenz’s book is  On Aggression. In these books the authors argue that man is by instinct an aggressive creature, and it is this innate propensity to violence that accounts for individual and group aggression in man. This Hobbesian view of human nature is not new; it is possibly older than the doctrine of Original Sin, and was widely prevalent during the reign of muscular Darwinism and its subsequent off­spring Social Darwinism.

It was a view that was embraced by Freud who, writing at the end of World War h_coneluded that ΓÇ£a powerful measure of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of manΓÇÖs instinctual endowment. . . .  Homo homini lupus; who has the courage to dispute it in the face of all the evidence in his own life and in history?ΓÇ¥

FreudΓÇÖs postulation of a drive toward death, thanatos,as an intrinsic part of human nature is well as The death instinct, as it came to be known, has been largely repudiated by psychoanalysts, but the conception of such an instinct or drive toward destruction has losLjnone of its force in the minds of many people. Its revival, in the new garb given it in the writings of Ardrey and Lorenz, comes at a period in the history of man which renders the views expressed by such writers most acceptable to their lay readers.' The layman is bewildered. Two World Wars, the breakdown in political, public, and private morality, the ever-increasing crime 
rates, the development of a climate and a culture of violence, together with the consciousness of an apocalyptic realization of irreversible disaster, are quandaries enough to cause men to look desperately about them for some sort of answer, for some explanation of the meaning, of the causes whicK~se6m{o be leading man to destruction.

It is understa...		
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