TED Conversations

Tinashe Shamhu

This conversation is closed.

Is war a necessity or something that should be avoided at all cost?

War can be an unpleasant experience but sometimes it seems like it is tool which can be used to bring about peace. In the same way it can be a tool used for tyranny and greed. Is it a good thing for people to desire eternal unquestionable peace or is war a means of bringing about that peace?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 19 2011: I think that War is genetically based, and therefore cannot be avoided. Deep within us there is a fear of others that stems back from early Evolution. We evolved in tight knit communities, and these communities learned that fear of other societies led to surival. Staying only within your group led to better survival of the group as a whole. Later, we evolved to fight with the other groups for domination of resources to further our survival. It is happening now with Silver Back Gorillas. Gorillas are now fighting with each other with weapons like rocks and sticks over territory and resources.

    If we look at all of this as a form primative xenophobia and extrapilate it to the present day, we find things like our inhibility to help others that live far away. An example of this comes from Peter Singer. I'm going to paraphrase, but essentially he says that if you had a pair of shoes that were worth 500 dollars, and saw a kid in a pond next to you that was drowning, you would more than likely help that child. Your 500 dollar pair of shoes are ruined, so in essence, it cost you 500 dollars to save that child, whereas you may not ever send 500 dollars over to Aftica to help some child there. This is a key concept with war. We protect our own, and try to expand our territories of our group at the cost of other groups. This is because we care less for them than ourselves or for those that are close to us.

    War cannot be avoided, unfortuanaly, and it is not a necessity, but a horrible consequence of an early evolutionary trait.
    • thumb
      Jul 19 2011: I think this is an unnecessarily defeatist view. Humans have been waging massive wars only since the invention/development of centralized semi-anonymous decision-making bodies (churches, governments, military bodies) and that's not our entire history. If you look at tribal cultures they don't go to wars very often and when they do it's not something that would seriously affect the gene pool. More often the one or two people from tribe x who come across tribe y will have something to trade to be able to make the journey back to their home. The resources necessary to create a war to attack another village would be too much and risk losing too much.

      Modern society has it's flaws but if you look at recent events like the independence of South Sudan and it's acceptance into the UN as well as other major improvements towards peace I believe it's entirely possible to foresee a day when literally everyone is at peace due to a common understanding that stable populations, economic development and technological transhumanism benefit greatly from warless states.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.