Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Human Nature and Aggression

DVD “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” 2004, NR
PDF Handout

In lesson one of the Class of Nonviolence we read Alfie Kohn’s “Human Nature Isn’t Inherently Violent.” A good film clip that supplements this essay is an 8-minute “bonus” feature from Howard Zinn in “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” On Human Nature and Aggression. He makes three points: (1) from his personal experience in WWII, men at war do not naturally want to kill; (2) from his historical research, governments have to persuade the people to go to war and (3) from his anthropological research (Turnbull, Wilson), aggression is caused by circumstances, not human nature. We also sometimes hand out a simplified copy of the Seville Statement, written by an international team of specialists in 1986 for the United Nations sponsored International Year of Peace, which contains five scientific statements about human nature and violence.

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