Human Aggression

The article examines the literal meaning of the term aggression before expressing the author’s view of aggression as a fundamental trait of human existence. He recognises and conceptualises human aggression as a form that runs through the development of the human being. This is done through tracing aggression and applying it to the struggle for independence in teenage life, the reason for War as well as intellectual argumentation and socio-economic competition. In this, he traces aggression as an essentialist form of natural development pertaining to a uniform and universal human psychology.

However, it is in this notion of an essentialist form of aggression that we can see fault with the article. This is because the author provides no evidence of aggression being a necessary condition to form one’s identity or to pursue the a competitive form of social relation. Essentially, by giving these examples as evidence for the base drive of our psyche and social relations he overlooks cultural conditioning, learning and other possible mechanisms that determine some of our behaviours as aggressive.

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For example, the socio-economic condition of competition may be aggressive. However, this does not mean that those conditioned by it are inherently aggressive. This essentialism is evidence of a crassness in the author’s writing. This is particularly prevalent in the example he gives in relation to the holocaust. In this example, he states that the prison guards ‘obviously’ act in an aggressive manner. This highly emotive example is certainly a device intended to gain the sympathy of the reader.

This is because in using such an established example of inhumanity, the reader will be inclined to take a negative view of humanity. However, he does not relate this in any way to his point regarding aggression as a fundamental human drive. This is perhaps because the prison guards murdered many of the victims of the holocaust passively due to their social conditioning. And this example of social conditioning is the antithesis to his essentialist argument. Bibliography Storr, A. , (1971) Human Aggression Oxford: Penguin


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