Human evolution is the process of change and development, or evolution, by which human beings emerged as a distinct species. It is the subject of a broad scientific inquiry that seeks to understand and describe how this change and development occurred. The study of human evolution encompasses many scientific disciplines, most notably physical anthropology and genetics. The term 'human', in the context of human evolution, refers to the genus Homo, but studies of human evolution usually include other hominids, such as the australopithecines.
The modern field of paleoanthropology began with the discovery of 'Neanderthal man'; and evidence of other 'cave men' in the 19th century. The idea that humans are similar to certain great apes had been obvious to people for some time, but the idea of the biological evolution of species in general was not legitimized until after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Though Darwin's first book on evolution did not address the specific question of human evolution— "light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history," was all Darwin wrote on the subject— the implications of evolutionary theory were clear to contemporary readers. Debates between Thomas Huxley and Richard Owen focused on the idea of human evolution, and by the time Darwin published his own book on the subject, Descent of Man, it was already a well-known interpretation of his theory— and the interpretation which made the theory highly controversial. Even many of Darwin's original supporters (such as Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Lyell) balked at the idea that human beings could have evolved their apparently boundless mental capacities and moral sensibilities through natural selection.
Since the time of Carolus Linnaeus, the great apes were considered the closest relatives of human beings, based on morphological similarity. In the 19th century, it was speculated that our closest living relatives were chimpanzees and gorillas, and based on the natural range of these creatures, it was surmised humans share a common ancestor with African apes and that fossils of these ancestors would ultimately be found in Africa.
It was not until the 1920s that fossils other than neanderthalensis were discovered. In 1924, Raymond Dart described Australopithecus africanus. The type specimen was the Taung Child, an australopithecine infant discovered in Taung, South Africa. The remains were a remarkably well-preserved tiny skull and an endocranial cast of the individual's brain. Although the brain was small (410 cm³), its shape was rounded, unlike that of chimpanzees and gorillas, and more like a modern human brain. Also, the specimen exhibited short canine teeth, and the position of the foramen magnum was evidence of bipedal locomotion. All of these traits convinced Dart that the Taung baby was a bipedal human ancestor, a transitional form between apes and humans. Another 20 years would pass before Dart's claims were taken seriously, following the discovery of more fossils that resembled his find. The prevailing view of the time was that a large brain evolved before bipedality. It was thought that intelligence on par with modern humans was a prerequisite to bipedalism.
The australopithecines are now thought to be the immediate ancestors of the genus Homo, the group to which modern humans belong. Both australopithecines and Homo sapiens are part of the tribe Hominini, but recent data has brought into doubt the position of A. africanus as a direct ancestor of modern humans; it may well have been a dead-end cousin. The australopithecines were originally classified as either gracile or robust. The robust variety of Australopithecus has since been reclassified as Paranthropus. In the 1930s, when the robust specimens were first described, the Paranthropus genus was used. During the 1960s, the robust variety was moved into Australopithecus. The recent trend has been back to the original classification as a separate genus.
Animal behavior studies have long recognized the role of evolution; the application of evolutionary theory to human psychology, however, is controversial. There are many families of criticism of the idea.
Some claim that because little is known about the evolutionary context in which humans developed (including population size, structure, lifestyle, eating habits, habitat, and more), there is little basis on which evolutionary psychology may operate. Most EP research is thus confined to certainties about the past, such as pregnancies only occurring in women, and that humans lived in groups. Others believe this criticism is based on a misunderstanding. Evolutionary psychologists use knowledge of the environment of evolutionary adaptedness to generate hypotheses regarding possible psychological adaptations and subsequently these hypotheses can be tested and evaluated against the empirical evidence in just the same way that any other hypothesis generated from any other theoretical perspective can be assessed. Furthermore, there are many environmental features that we can be sure played a part in our species' evolutionary history. Our ancestors most certainly dealt with predators and prey, food acquisition and sharing, mate choice, child rearing, interpersonal aggression, interpersonal assistance, diseases and a host of other fairly predictable challenges that constituted significant selection pressures. (For a strong outline of the current state of all our concrete knowledge in this area, see: Mithen, Steven. After The Ice: A Global Human History 20000-5000 BC. Harvard Uni. Press, 2004).
Critics claim that many of its propositions are not falsifiable, and thus label it as a pseudoscience. This is again due to a fundamental misunderstanding; Evolutionary Psychology is a way of generating testable (and thus falsifiable) hypotheses about the structure of the mind. All of psychology makes predictions (or assumptions) about the structure of the mind. Evolutionary psychology commits to a very specific causal relationship between the mind and the environment in which its design was selected, making it a source of highly specific, concrete, and falsifiable predictions.
Some studies have been criticized for their tendency to attribute to evolutionary processes elements of human cognition that may be attributable to social processes (e.g. preference for particular physical features in mates). Evolutionary psychologists respond that many traits have been shown to be universal in humans and that social processes are related to evolutionary processes.
Some alternatives to evolutionary psychology maintain that elements of human behaviour are irreducible to their component parts. By way of illustration, in the work of Peter Hobson, human consciousness is identified as the product principally of intersubjective learning, albeit on a platform of emotional tools provided by human nature. As a social process, such a construction of minds would not be describable in the cellular components of individual organisms. See Daniel Dennett for an elegant handling of this caricature of science (called greedy reductionism), which is not characteristic of any sophisticated philosophy of science, including a science of psychology informed by evolutionary biology.
Some people worry that evolutionary psychology will be used to justify harmful behavior, and have at times tried to suppress its study. They give the example that people may be more likely to cheat on their spouse if they believe their mind evolved to be that way.
Evolutionary psychologists respond by saying that they only state what is, not what ought to be. Knowing how something works is the first step in fixing it if it's broken, or changing how it works (if we should is a decision commonly left to philosophers). If people understand the system that 'makes' them promiscuous - not for their happiness, not because it is right or moral, but because of the blind causal process of natural selection - they can become better consumers of their own consciousness, and other people may be able to use this understanding to intervene and change their behaviour.
Understanding evolutionary psychology does not entail taking a moral viewpoint on people's behaviour, any more than understanding how cancer works condones its existence. (see naturalistic fallacy)
A recent hypothesis about the nature of the human condition (our capacity for good and evil) is based on the approach of evolutionary biology. Jeremy Griffith asks the question “what happened in human evolution when the intellect evolved to the level where it could take control from the instincts”. This hypothesis is explored in a controversial book entitled A Species in Denial
Art is the product or process of the effective application of a body of knowledge and a set of skills. The word art derives from the Latin ars, which, loosely translated, means "arrangement" or "to arrange". Art is commonly understood as an act and process of making material works (or artworks) which, from concept to creation, hold a fidelity to the creative impulse — that is, 'art' is work distinct from creative work that is driven by necessity (i.e. vocation), by biological drive (i.e. procreation), or by any undisciplined pursuit of recreation. The creative arts essentially denotes a collection of disciplines whose principal purpose is in the output of material that is compelled by a personal drive and echoing or reflecting a message, mood, and symbology for the viewer to interpret. As such, the term 'art' may be taken to include forms as diverse as prose writing, poetry, dance, acting, music, sculpture and painting. Art may also be understood as relating to creativity, æsthetics and generation of emotion.Over the past 200 years in western European urban culture, art has also been an activity of cultural expression or self expression that is independent of any specific purpose, set of skills, or body of knowledge.
As cultural expression, art may be defined as a category of distinction that seeks diversity and requires narratives of liberation and exploration (i.e. art history, art criticism, and art theory) to mediate its boundaries. This distinction may be applied to objects or performances, current or historical, and its prestige extends to those who made, found, exhibit, or own them. There are no necessary or sufficient criteria for the items chosen other than the necessity of originality. It's purpose may be political (such as art for palaces or propoganda) or liturgical (art for cathedrals or temples) or unknowable (prehistoric cave markings) or nothing other than the purpose of being validated as art (contemporary art).
As self-expression, art has no boundaries, other than to be free from all other requirements. It's purpose is to develop the self-awareness and self-confidence of the practitioner and sometimes also to share that with others.
Music is an art, entertainment, or other human activity which involves organized and audible sound, though definitions vary.
Broadly, here are some groups of definitions:
Those that define music as an external, physical fact, for example "organized sound", or as a specific type of perception.
Those that label it, according to context, as a social construction or subjective experience.
Those that label it as an artistic process or product, with the related psychological phenomena.
Those that seek a platonic or quasi-platonic ideal of music which is not rooted in specifically physical or mental terms, but in a higher truth.
The definition of music as sound with particular characteristics is taken as a given by psychoacoustics, and is a common one in musicology and performance. In this view, there are observable patterns to what is broadly labeled music, and while there are understandable cultural variations, the properties of music are the properties of sound as perceived and processed by people.
Traditional philosophies define music as tones ordered horizontally (as melodies) and vertically (as harmonies). Music theory, within this realm, is studied with the presupposition that music is orderly and often pleasant to hear.
John Cage is the most famous advocate of the idea that anything can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound," though some argue that this somewhat fascistically imposes the definition on everything. According to musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990 p.47-8,55): "The border between music and noise is always culturally defined--which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus.... By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be."
In support of the view that music is a label for a totality of different aspects which are culturally constructed. Often a definition of music lists the aspects or elements that make up music. Molino (1975: 43) argues that, in addition to a lack of consensus, "any element belonging to the total musical fact can be isolated, or taken as a strategic variable of musical production." Nattiez gives as examples Mauricio Kagel's Con Voce [with voice], where a masked trio silently mimes playing instruments. In this example sound, a common element, is excluded, while gesture, a less common element, is given primacy.
The platonic ideal of music is currently the least fashionable in the philosophy of criticism and music, because it is crowded on one side by the physical view - what is the metasubstance of music made of, if not sound? - and on the other hand by the constructed view of music - how can one tell the difference between any metanarrative of music and one which is merely intersubjective? However, its appeal, finding unexpected mathematical relationships in music, and finding analogies between music and physics, for example string theory, means that this view continues to find adherents, including such critics and performers as Charles Rosen and Edward Rothstein.
War is a state of widespread conflict between states, organizations, or relatively large groups of people, which is characterised by the use of lethal violence between combatants or upon civilians. Other terms for war, which often serve as euphemisms, include armed conflict, hostilities, and police action (note). War is contrasted with peace, which is usually defined as the absence of war.
A common perception of war is a series of military campaigns between at least two opposing sides involving a dispute over sovereignty, territory, resources, religion or a host of other issues. A war to liberate an occupied country is sometimes characterised as a "war of liberation", while a war between internal elements of the same state may constitute a civil war.
"Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Tao to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed."---The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
War seems as old as human society, and certainly features prominently in the recorded histories of state-cultures. The earliest city states and empires in Mesopotamia became the first to employ standing armies. Organization and structure has since been central to warfare, as illustrated by the success of highly disciplined troops of the Roman Empire.
As well as organizational change, technology has played a central role in the evolution of warfare. Armies with iron weapons easily defeated armies armed with bronze. Inventions created for warfare play an important role in advances in other fields, but modern technology has greatly increased the potential cost and destruction of war.
The study of warfare is known as military history.
Throughout history, war has been the source of serious moral questions. Although many ancient nations and some more modern ones viewed war as noble, over the sweep of history concerns about the morality of war have gradually increased. Today war is generally seen as undesirable and morally problematic, although this view is contested by some. Pacifists believe that war is inherently immoral and that no war should ever be fought. This position was passionately defended by the Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi (called "Mahatma" or "Great Soul").
The negative view of war has not always been held as widely as it is today. Many thinkers, such as Heinrich von Treitschke saw war as humanity's highest activity where courage, honor, and ability were more necessary than in any other endeavour. At the outbreak of World War I the writer Thomas Mann wrote, "Is not peace an element of civil corruption and war a purification, a liberation, an enormous hope?" This attitude was embraced by many societies from Sparta in Ancient Greece and the Ancient Romans to the fascist states of the 1930s. The defeat and repudiation of the fascist states and their militarism in the Second World War, the huge psychological and physical damage of nuclear war and a growth of the respect for the sanctity of individual life, as enshrined in the concept of human rights and as a cultural consequence of falling natural mortality rates and birth rates, have contributed to the current view of war.
Today, some see only just wars as legitimate, and believe that it is the goal of organizations such as the United Nations to unite the world against wars of unjust aggression.
Psychologists such as E.F.M. Durban and John Bowlby have argued that human beings, especially men, are inherently violent. While this violence is repressed in normal society it needs the occasional outlet provided by war. This combines with other notions, such as displacement where a person transfers their grievances into bias and hatred against other ethnic groups, nations, or ideologies. While these theories may have some explanatory value about why wars occur, they do not explain when or how they occur. In addition, they raise the question why there are sometimes long periods of peace and other eras of unending war. If the innate psychology of the human mind is unchanging, these variations are inconsistent. A solution adapted to this problem by militarists such as Franz Alexander is that peace does not really exist. Periods that are seen as peaceful are actually periods of preparation for a later war or when war is suppressed by a state of great power, such as the Pax Britannica.
If war is innate to human nature, as is presupposed by many psychological theories, then there is little hope of ever escaping it. One alternative is to argue that war is only, or almost only, a male activity and if human leadership was in female hands wars would not occur. This theory has played an important role in modern feminism. Critics, of course, point to various examples of female political leaders who had no qualms about using military force, such as Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi.
Other psychologists have argued that while human temperament allows wars to occur, they only do so when mentally unbalanced men are in control of a nation. This extreme school of thought argues leaders that seek war such as Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin were mentally abnormal.
A distinct branch of the psychological theories of war are the arguments based on evolutionary psychology. This school tends to see war as an extension of animal behaviour, such as territoriality and competition. However, while war has a natural cause, the development of technology has accelerated human destructiveness to a level that is irrational and damaging to the species. We have the same instincts of a chimpanzee but overwhelmingly more power. The earliest advocate of this theory was Konrad Lorenz. These theories have been criticized by scholars such as John G. Kennedy, who argue that the organized, sustained war of humans differs more than just technologically from the territorial fights between animals.
In his fictional book Nineteen-Eighty-Four, George Orwell talks about war being used as one of many ways to distract people. War inspires fear and hate among the people of a nation, and gives them a 'legitimate' enemy upon whom they can focus this fear and hate. Thus the people are prevented from seeing that their true enemy is in fact their own repressive government. By this theory, war is another 'opiate of the masses' by which a state controls its people and prevents revolution.
Several anthropologists take a very different view of war. They see it as fundamentally cultural, learned by nurture rather than nature. Thus if human societies could be reformed, war would disappear. To this school the acceptance of war is inculcated into each of us by the religious, ideological, and nationalistic surroundings in which we live.
Many anthropologists also see no links between various forms of violence. They see the fighting of animals, the skirmishes of hunter-gatherer tribes, and the organized warfare of modern societies as distinct phenomena each with their own causes. Theorists such as Ashley Montagu emphasize the top down nature of war, that almost all wars are begun not by popular pressure but by the whims of leaders and that these leaders also work to maintain a system of ideological justifications for war.
Sociology has long been very concerned with the origins of war, and many thousands of theories have been advanced, many of them contradictory. Some use detailed formulas taking into account hundreds of demographic and economic values to predict when and where wars will break out. The statistical analysis of war was pioneered by Lewis Fry Richardson following World War I. More recent databases of wars and armed conflict have been assembled by the Correlates of War Project, Peter Brecke and the Uppsala Department of Peace and Conflict Research. So far none of these formulas have successfully predicted the outbreak of future conflicts. A detailed study by Michael Haas found that no single variable has a strong correlation to the occurrence of wars. One correlation that has found much support is that states that are democracies do not go to war with each other, an idea known as the democratic peace theory.
Many sociologists have attempted to divide wars into types to get better correlations, but this has also produced mixed results. Data looked at by R.J. Rummel has found that civil wars and foreign wars are very different in origin, but Jonathan Wilkenfield using different data found just the opposite.
Sociology has thus divided into a number of schools. One based on the works of Eckart Kehr and Hans-Ulrich Wehler sees war as the product of domestic conditions, with only the target of aggression being determined by international realities. Thus World War I was not a product of international disputes, secret treaties, or the balance of power but a product of the economic, social, and political situation within each of the states involved.
This differs from the traditional approach of Carl von Clausewitz and Leopold von Ranke that argue it is the decisions of statesmen and the geopolitical situation that leads to war.
Pope Urban in 1095, on the eve of the First Crusade, wrote, "For this land which you now inhabit, shut in on all sides by the sea and the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; it scarcely furnishes food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and devour one another, that you wage wars, and that many among you perish in civil strife. Let hatred, therefore, depart from among you; let your quarrels end. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulcher; wrest that land from a wicked race, and subject it to yourselves."
This is one of the earliest expressions of what has come to be called the Malthusian theory of war, in which wars are caused by expanding populations and limited resources. Thomas Malthus (1766 - 1834) wrote that populations always increase until they are limited by war, disease, or famine.
This theory accounts for the relative decrease in wars during the past fifty years, especially in the developed world, where advances in agriculture have made it possible to support a much larger population that was formerly the case, and where birth control has dramatically slowed the increase in population.
A popular new approach is to look at the role of information in the outbreak of wars. This theory, advanced by scholars of international relations such as Geoffrey Blainey, argues that all wars are based on a lack of information. If both sides at the outset knew the result neither would fight, the loser would merely surrender and avoid the cost in lives and infrastructure that a war would cause.
This is based on the notion that wars are reciprocal, that all wars require both a decision to attack and also a decision to resist attack. This notion is generally agreed to by almost all scholars of war since Clausewitz. This notion is made harder to accept because it is far more common to study the cause of wars rather than events that failed to cause wars, and wars are far more memorable. However, throughout history there are as many invasions and annexations that did not lead to a war, such as the U.S.-led invasion of Haiti in 1994, the Nazi invasions of Austria and Czechoslovakia preceding the Second World War, and the annexation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union in 1940. On the other hand, Finland's decision to resist a similar Soviet aggression in 1939 led to the Winter War.
The leaders of these nations chose not to resist as they saw the potential benefits being not worth the loss of life and destruction such resistance would cause. Lack of information may not only be to who wins in the immediate future. The Norwegian decision to resist the Nazi invasion was taken with the certain knowledge that Norway would fall. The Norwegians did not know whether the German domination would be permanent and also felt that noble resistance would win them favour with the Allies and a position at the peace settlement in the event of an Allied victory. If in 1940 it had been known with certainty the Germans would dominate central Europe for many decades, it is unlikely the Norwegians would have resisted. If it had been known for certainty that the Third Reich would collapse after only a few years of war, the Nazis would not have launched the invasion at all.
This theory is predicated on the notion that the outcome of wars is not randomly determined, but fully determined on factors such as doctrine, economies, and power. While purely random events, such as storms or the right person dying at the right time, might have had some effect on history, these only influence a single battle or slightly alter the outcome of a war, but would not mean the difference between victory and defeat.
There are two main objectives in the gathering of intelligence. The first is to find out the ability of an enemy, the second their intent. In theory to have enough information to prevent all wars both need to be fully known. The Argentinean dictatorship knew that the United Kingdom had the ability to defeat them, but their intelligence failed them on the question of whether the British would use their power to resist the annexation of the Falklands. The American decision to enter the Vietnam War was made with the full knowledge that the communist forces would resist them, but did not believe that the guerrillas had the capability to long oppose American forces.
One major difficulty is that in a conflict of interests, some deception or at least not telling everything is a standard tactical component on both sides. If you think that you can convince the opponent that you will fight, the opponent might desist. For example, Sweden made efforts to deceive Nazi Germany that it would resist an attack fiercely partly by playing on the myth of Aryan superiority, and by making sure that Hermann Göring only saw Elite troops in action, often dressed up as regular soldiers, when he came to visit.
Another school of thought argues that war can be seen as an outgrowth of economic competition in a chaotic and competitive international system. In this view, wars begin as a pursuit of new markets, of natural resources, and of wealth. Unquestionably a cause of some wars, from the empire building of Britain to the 1941 Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in pursuit of oil, this theory has been applied to many other conflicts including the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. It is most often advocated by those to the left of the political spectrum, who argue that such wars serve the interests of the wealthy, but are fought by the poor.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Human Evolution", Wikipedia article "Evolutionary Psychology", Wikipedia article "Art", Wikipedia article "Music", and Wikipedia article "War".