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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the conceptual and practical implications of the idea that aggression is a defining element of the human essence. To determine whether aggression is part of the human essence, the chapter considers historical philosophical perspectives on this issue, such as Sigmund Freud’s belief that humans have an instinct toward destruction and violence. We also review psychological research on the topic that takes into account biological, environmental, personality, and situational influences on human aggression and incorporates cross-cultural, ethological, and evolutionary perspectives. In particular, we examine the role of culture in aggression and aggression as a tool of intrasexual competition. Finally, we discuss aggression in animals from an ethological perspective as well as the possible biological pathways of aggression. Collectively, the evidence suggests great malleability and adaptability in response to human conflict; Aggression is one of many tools humans use to solve problems of social living. Rather than an essence, aggression may be best thought of as a strategy that is sometimes viable and sometimes counterproductive.

Keywords: aggression, biological pathways, competition, culture, ethology, evolution, instinct, violence, human essence, Sigmund Freud

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