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John Horgan is a well-known American scientist and writer of the 20th century, who wrote a great deal of scientific theories and made a lot of amazing discoveries. He is a director of the Scientific Literature Center at Stevenson’s Technological Institute.
From 1986 to 1997 he worked at the position of the leading journalist-observer of one of the most prestigious scientific periodicals in the world - “Scientific American”, which he had to leave after the publication of his book “The End of Science”. “The End of War”, “The Undiscovered Mind” and “Rational Mysticism” are among his most famous books. He is also an author of a set of articles, frequent participant of popular scientific teleprograms.
“In The End of War, science writer John Horgan also challenges our views on violence. He narrows the lens mostly to war, and the possibility of eradicating it. This is a furrow Horgan has ploughed for a while, in informal seminars and magazine articles. Horgan argues that there is no persuasive evidence for warlike activity.” (Else, 2011).
War is not a natural state for a person. The civilization distinguishes not so violent ways of implementation of changes.
War is the most destructive form of all the forms of human violence; it is an organized deadly fight between two or more groups. Throughout the whole history of mankind far-sighted people among whom there were so different figures like Immanuel Kant and Martin Luther King predicted the wars or their threats as the means of the settlement of the international disputes.
At present, the majority of people consider war and militarism inevitable. Polls which have been carried out in the world for the previous years testify to it. More than 90 percent of people answered “no” to the question: “will people finish wars?”. Some people proved their answers by the fact that war is “in our genes”.
The recent researches of war and aggression problems, at first sight, confirm this fatalistic conclusion. Scientists persistently look for the means, which would allow putting an end to wars on our planet. There are various ways for it: from the introduction of brain implants, i.e. the devices implanted in a human body which directly affect a brain to the appeals to have sex more often.
Horgan’s book made a lot of noise in the scientific and pseudo-scientific world. It is necessary to add that Horgan in his book only embodied those general tendencies, characteristic for a modern science as a whole. He was influenced by the inventors of “the theory of the whole”, after which the creation on a share of scientists remain insignificant researches of the technical plan on the coordination of global theoretical formulas of “a pure science” with the current requirements of everyday life.
“Horgan’s most recent book is The End of War, published in 2012 by McSweeney’s Books. The book has been called “the best book I’ve read in a very long time” (journalist David Swanson), “thoughtful, unflappable, closely argued” (novelist Nicholson Baker), “heartfelt and important” (evolutionary psychologist David Barash in Chronicle of Higher Education). Horgan has discussed the book on NPR, MSNBC and Voice of America, among other media outlets, and he has been invited to give talks at Columbia, NYU, Rutgers and other universities” (Horgan 2012, Web).
The communication between war and domination of men in politics as well as the communication between war and any other factor is represented very insignificant. Some societies are quite peaceful, despite a dominating role of men. For example, in one of the cantons of Switzerland, - the country which traditionally does not participate in wars, - women received a vote only in the 1990s. The United States of America, on the contrary, remained the militant power throughout the whole previous century, despite the obvious successes achieved in the field of gender equality.
Biological methods are incapable to solve a problem of the armed conflicts; in the same way, it is impossible to explain the phenomenon of war by means of biological theories. Unfortunately, in reality, biology represents much more difficult and less determinist science, than we represent to ourselves.
Until recently, scientists believed that war always was and remains an invariable attribute of human existence - they talked even of our genetic predisposition to bloodshed, though any gene of militarism has not been found yet. Animals, as a rule, do not resort to mass interspecies murders. The pack of wolves does not declare war to their neighbors. War accompanied us throughout the whole known history, and, despite the civilization progress, many people consider the 20th century to be an exclusively bloody era. Many from hunting tribes, such as the African Bushmen, the Australian natives, and Eskimos never entered the conflicts with neighbors.
As for the 20th century, it, despite its bad reputation, actually was one of the most bloodless in the history of mankind. The general losses in all wars of the century made about 2 % from the globe population - it is 10 times less than in primitive collisions when people got used to kill the opponent, except for, maybe, women of genital age.
Horgan in his book “The End of War” notes that the earliest of mass fights known to archeology took place about 14 thousand years ago. He founds the cause of it in the agricultural revolution and transition to a settled way of life. At that time, people had surpluses of production for the first time, stocks of the food and valuable subjects for which it was meaningful to fight, not to mention the territories occupied by the settled tribes.
The thesis that democratic societies, as a rule, do not declare wars was added by John Horgan. In his book, he gives his favorite example how the Roman popular assembly, democratic body, contrary to the opinion of the oligarchic senate, cast the republic into the Macedonian war immediately upon the termination of the wearisome Punic. However, those who passed the beginning of the 21st century do not need this example.
Horgan also refers to the known expert on cognitive sciences Stephen Pinker who notices that the violence level in a society decreases throughout a long historical period - at present, there are 10 times fewer murders in Europe than in the Middle Ages. It is obviously the function of a civilization, instead of a biological evolution for which the specified term is very small.
It seems to me that the basic emphasis of Horgan’s book is to prove that we have no genetic predisposition to fratricide. It is not necessary to spend so many efforts - nobody has proved it yet. However, it is not possible to make conclusion that we will have a good future.
There is no gene of war, at least because war represents a social phenomenon, instead of biological one. According to Horgan, it is quite possible that human evolution today transferred from a biological phase into a social one, where not gene, but a meme, a hypothetical unit of cultural heredity, became its carrier. However, it is the area of an abstract theory, which has not been supported yet by any real experiments and predictions. According to assumptions of the Europeans, the 19th century was, probably, the peak of such civilized mildness.
It follows from the above-said that we are doomed to a mutual destruction. However, the history consists of our acts. Throughout a rather “quiet” 20 century we managed to destroy the number of people equivalent to all population of the Roman Empire during its prosperity.
Certainly, it will be difficult to finish wars. It is possible to say that war is determinated for us by the higher forces; we are doomed to wage wars. In order to be constant, peace should also be determinated by the higher forces.
Scientists can make the contribution to a cause of peace in two ways: firstly, publicly rejecting the thesis about the inevitability of war; secondly, carrying out more intensive researches of the reasons of war and peace. The short-term goal of these researches is to find the ways of reduction of the conflicts in the modern world where they occurred. A long-term goal is to define how mankind can achieve a continuous disarmament - elimination of armies, weapon and war industry.
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