By Thomas A. Gregor

ISBN-10: 0585033099

ISBN-13: 9780585033099

ISBN-10: 0826512720

ISBN-13: 9780826512727

A stimulating and cutting edge attention of the concept that, reasons, and perform of peace in societies either historic and smooth, human and primate.

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Instead, what I have been arguing is that peace and health exist not as objective states but as ideals contemplated from the point of view of their opposites. 11 We achieve these ideals (or, more likely, experience the illusion of doing so) in the exhilaration, relief, and sense of contentment that comes from discovering that the war or the illness is over, the hardships and misery are behind Page 9 us. But such experiences, being aesthetic in kind, are as fleeting as they are intense. Even without the reoccurrence of conflict or illness, it is not long before peace or health, as the case may be, resumes its normal transparency.

Peace is impossible or unlikely, and is therefore of little interest. Although peace may be an assumed condition were it not for war, there is also a Page xii long tradition in the social sciences that sees humans as inherently fractious and violent. In Vienna, in September of 1932, for example, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein engaged in a historical exchange of letters in which Freud stated his death instinct theory of war and aggression: Dear Prof. Einstein: According to our hypothesis human instincts are of only two kinds: those which seek to preserve and unite-which we call erotic and those which seek to destroy and kill, which we class together as the aggressive or destructive instinct.

To imagine the ideograph divided in this fashion is to follow "a tradition among Chinese scholars reaching back almost two millennia, a tradition that allowed one to see, buried inside the word for war, the possibilities, however frail, of peace" (p. 24). This image of peace as something "buried inside" of war captures very well the particular ontology of "peace" that is my main subject matter. My thesis is that peace belongs to a family of terms, which, unlike its congeries of opposites, refer not to material states of being, except in a special, aesthetic sense to be discussed.

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A Natural History of Peace by Thomas A. Gregor


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