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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Having reviewed the apparent inevitability and compensating benefits of aggression in the past, Arthur Woolgar suggests some reasons why aggression may play a much reduced role in the future.
How convincing do you find these reasons, and do you consider the gains would outweigh the losses if aggression ceased to be a central feature of human behaviour?

The author states that increased technological and scientific advancements, sports and competitions and the increasing influence of women, would lead to the reduction of the role played by aggression in the future. Though that may be the case, there are also instances when war and conflict is inevitable.

While scientific developments have satisfied the needs of many people today, equipping them with the means to acquire information and a convenient life-style, it cannot be wholly said that science has resolved the sources of conflict, as stated by the author. He says, ‘…aggression is not the only means through which world population can be controlled. … as well as the ability to increase agricultural productivity on which these people depend’ (lines 57-59). It is true that science has enabled us to increase the amount of limited resources that we have, so as to satisfy the needs of a growing population. For example, through the advent of green revolution, rice production around the globe was increased. In this way, science has solved most of the ‘limited resources’ problem and has prevented countries from waging wars for this sole reason. However, it being a double-edged sword, science has also provided the means to fight and invade other countries more dangerously, strongly and rapidly. Sonar detectors used in the navy, fighter jets that can travel in the speed of about 800km/h and AK-47s, are all weapons that technology has created to wage wars even more cunningly and dangerously, victimizing many innocent civilians. The emerging nuclear weapons threat in the Middle East countries and missile launches in Korea are evidence enough to create concern around the world. Therefore, it is conclusive that because of science, it is highly likely that aggression might play a significant role in the future.

The author’s claim that ‘… women may enable the human race to tame and render harmless the aggressive instinct,’ is flawed. It is true that the virtues of women, such as those stated by Woolgar like ‘…cooperation, care and concern for others,’ might bring about peace and calmness into the environment. For example, more and more women have taken an active participation in the government in certain Middle Eastern countries, which has brought about peace and goodness to the societies. However, the author’s argument is flawed because the aggressive and dominant nature that Man possesses, regardless of gender, is instinctual. Women were present in the past, and so are they today. Yet, there were no instances in the past that showed that women can “tame” men. In fact, it was the other way round. Even now, one cannot say for sure that women influence men in such a way that men would abandon their aggressiveness. Women did not prevent the Iraq war, which was driven by the aggression of men. In fact, with more women climbing the corporate ladder and acquiring managerial positions in the workforce, which is dominated by men, competition and aggressiveness in would only increase. Even in the field of education, research has shown that girls perform much better than boys. As a result, men might start to feel more ambitious to defeat their successful female counterparts in the workforce and schools, in the process being more prone towards aggressiveness.

If aggression ceased to be a central feature of human behaviour, I think that there would be larger gains. I do agree that aggression is a primary motive that fuels the ambition to achieve greater things. When the word ‘aggression’ is associated with positive connotations, it can be viewed as a fervent desire to express one’s individuality, to be someone unique, and to make a stand in the world. In this context, ‘aggression’ is expressed by the author, as something that has enabled to create a number of historical personalities and technological developments. However, the argument posited by the author is lacking in logic. When he says that war and conflict have created many historical personalities and had brought about technological developments, he is implying that war and conflict were necessary motives to ensure the development of countries. While this may be partly true, one cannot have frequent wars within a country to bring about further development. This only sounds more ridiculous. There are other stronger motives for the technological developments and so forth. For example, the need to provide employment for the growing number of populations fuels industrialization and this brings about development. Furthermore, if there were fewer conflicts, the business and tourism sectors would function normally. Fewer competitions among countries would encourage a more harmonious diplomatic relations.

The above is an application question that i wrote for the November 2005 General Paper. I got quite good comments for it from the teacher. I added some new points and kind of like completed the answer. It lacked a lot of points and i think now i would have gotten higher marks for it. I got 3.5/8 because there are two parts fort his question and i only answered the first part of the question. I was lazy to write the conclusion though.


The Individualist said...

As for women scoring higher than men, true @ the statistics. But statistics can sometimes miss the main point. Even though it seems to indicate that women have higher academic ability, I doubt if it is that way. I am more inclined towards believing that it all comes down to the amount of time you dedicate to it. And because 'boys' have more distractions and more choices, they have lesser time to dedicate to academical pursuits. And the distractions, in turn, are caused by the extent of freedom they are provided with, which, am sure like you will agree, is obviously more than what is granted to girls. And you'd be surprised to find out that with more and more freedom being granted to women, the academical difference is fast burning out.
If you are asking me what the point is, I can tell you that it is not the academical ability that is the root. If you agree, there my reply goes, plop. If you don't, I would like to know why you think so, if you want to, that is.
I liked the way you wrote though. Clear and uncomplicated. The more cures Science seems to find, the more ways of destruction it seems to reveal. During some pessimistic times, I wonder if it made any difference at all. But yes. It has enlightened. And so, it deserveth forgiveness-
And sorry, if you think, I spammed. lol

Priya said...

I quite agree with you. But if you look at the situation biologically, the academic capacity of girls is higher than in boys at a younger age. Research has clearly shown that among toddlers, girls are able to grasp information more quickly compared to boys. I don't know whether you have noticed or not. Girls actually learn ABCs more earlier in age compared to when boys learn.

When they grow, you can see significant changes. The differences will start to fade out, like you said. And when you look at the tertiary level of education, it can be seen that most men do much better than women. Maybe here you can bring in the factor that you are suggesting. But there is always some biological factor involved in all these situations.

I should also have included another argument that the author had written. He said that aggression is a base instinct of humans. One can counter it by saying that it is actually a learned behaviour. But i didn't do that here.

About the way i wrote, i'm required to write like that to get good marks. Anyway, thanks for leaving a comment here.

The Individualist said...

"About the way i wrote, i'm required to write like that to get good marks."
It'd be wonderful if you decided to write like that even otherwise.

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