The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence. (Book Reviews: Human Evolution)

By Knight, Chris | Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, September 2002 | Go to article overview

The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence. (Book Reviews: Human Evolution)


Knight, Chris, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


GHIGLIERI, MICHAEL P. The dark side of man: tracing the origins of male violence. xii, 323 pp., table, notes. Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1999. [pounds sterling]17.95 (cloth)

This book claims to uncover the roots of homicide, war, and 'terrorism'. Since the author is a well-known primatologist -- described on the dust-jacket as 'a protege of Jane Goodall' -- I expected a controversial but at least scholarly account. I was wrong.

Each chapter -- 'Rape', 'Murder', 'Genocide', 'War', etc. -- begins with a tabloid-style sensationalist account of pathological violence. In the case of the 'rape' story, this is particularly harrowing, leaving few details to the imagination. As its climax approaches, the narrative suddenly breaks off, whereupon Ghiglieri -- now donning his 'scientist' mantle -- elaborates on the inescapably violent sexual urges of the human male.

'Murder is coded in our DNA', Ghiglieri tells us, 'just as it is in the genes of our close ape cousins' (p. 154). Mountain gorillas are 'natural born killers' (pp. 129-33). The great apes lead lives 'shaped by instinctive social "rules" that are violent, sexist, and xenophobic' (p. 8). Among apes, 'not only does "might make right", but superiority in combat is the only sure road to reproductive success' (p. 12). Humans share with our mammalian relatives the same 'basic biology', hence the same political drives -- explaining why 'ten times more men than women worldwide are politicians' (p. 26).

Ghiglieri is no social or economic historian. For him, a male is a male is a male. Osama bin Laden, Idi Amin, an assortment of psychopaths and rapists, wild-living mountain gorillas, and !Kung Bushmen are lumped together as case-studies -- the latter counting as war-like' rather than 'harmless' on the basis that they 'defend waterholes and foraging areas' (p. 164).

Having dealt with hunter-gatherers (he himself having been an 'international wilderness guide among remote and primitive tribesmen', p. x), the author warms to his theme. 'Now we return to the big question: are men born to be lethally violent? The answer is yes. Aggression is programmed by our DNA' (p. 30). War 'is a male reproductive strategy' (p. 165). 'Human murder is no accident. Instead, murder is encoded into the human psyche' (p. 133). 'Wars erupt naturally everywhere humans are present' (p. 163; author's italics throughout).

So what cure does Ghiglieri recommend? 'To stop violence', he writes, 'we must decide that our justice is lex talionis justice' (p. 256). The 'we' invoked here is - transparently - the United States. Ending terrorism requires a 'leap': 'This leap must propel us to patriotic loyalty within our national community and carry us beyond it toward global cooperation between nations' (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Dark Side of Man: Tracing the Origins of Male Violence. (Book Reviews: Human Evolution)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.