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On Aggression (Harvest Book, Hb 291) 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156687416
ISBN-10: 0156687410
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Editorial Reviews

Review

In this remarkable study, Professor Lorenz, naturalist by profession and Darwinian by conviction, presents the results of his inquiry into the aggressive behavior of animals. And, in so doing, relates his findings to the complicated nature of man and modern society. By exploring each species on an ascending scale, he admirably demonstrates that aggressive tendencies are an essential part of the life-preserving process: i.e. the "intra-specific" or fights within a group which allows for a normal distribution of abilities comparable to the practical effect of having only the necessary number of doctors within a small town. He particularizes about animals whose behavioral patterns are most analogous to man's - the rat with its transmission of experience and the astonishingly comparable Greylag Goose whose norms of behavior, right down to the absurd details of falling in love, strife for ranking order, jealousy, grieving etc., are the same. But the author views man as perhaps less fortunate since we are in the dangerous position of too much, too soon, and nature's safeguards, the inhibiting mechanisms against aggression which generally accompany increased power among the lower orders, have not caught up with man's means for destruction. We lack this and/or adequate catharsis for our "essential" aggressive tendencies. But the author offers some intelligent solutions as the "hope that the long-sought missing link between animals and the really humane being is ourselves." Provocative, educational and genuinely readable. (Kirkus Reviews)

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book, Hb 291
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (October 23, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156687410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156687416
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #458,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Richard Cunningham on February 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the best known book by the Nobel Prize winning researcher Konrad Lorenz. Although some of his ideas may have become superceded by the Richard Dawkin's school of Ethology/SocioBiology (Dawkins wrote the excellent "The Selfish Gene", "The Extended Phenotype", "The Blind Watchmaker", and "River Out Of Eden" among others), they both collaborated with the renowned Nobel Prize winner, Niko(laas) Tinbergen. Essential reading for understanding species behavior and interaction.

Lorenz became active in the Green Party as an environmental advocate. For those interested primarily with his views on human ecology and civilization, a good follow up book to this is "Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins"(1974).
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Is TV to blame for human violence? Some people believe so. But in the countries with censored violence-free media the crime rate is even worse. According to the author aggression is innate, it evolved because environment made it necessary for the survival of the species. Aggression is also responsible for the development of personal relationships: one has to know whom not to kill. If there was no aggression there would be no biological need for friendship. The author proves his explanation of human behavior using numerous observations on various animal species, including the species that exhibit aggression and the ones that don't.
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By A Customer on November 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Lorenz's theories simply and logically explained. Very thought provoking material. Don't be afraid that it's out of date.
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A lifetime of thinking, research, and observation clearly went into creating this marvelous book. I like it when someone clearly cares about what he's doing, engrosses himself in his work, possibly to the point of obsession. This may well describe Lorenz and this classic book, who defends Darwin and to some degree Freud, among others. Not just about his first hand observations of animals and his interpretation of their behavior, the book extends its scope to include philosophy and history, especially the evolutionary underpinnings of human history. It is rich in detail and very well written. A must read for anyone who cares about the past and future of living things on this planet. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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While some Lorenz's ideas ("for the good of the species") might be supplanted, his observations of the animal world are still brilliant and make for fascinating reading. This book has been given a bum rap and severely criticized, often for the wrong reasons, by writers I admire. Lorenz never claimed that were were doomed by nature. Lorenz claimed that we are aggressive by nature, but never that we are murderous by nature. Nature has made humans, as it has made most animals, reluctant to kill its own kind. But humans have stepped outside nature. Knives and clubs made it too easy too kill. Guns made it easier still. How bomber American pilots of World War II would have parachuted down into German or Japanees cities and torched thousands of civilians? None of them would have done so. Killing at a distance makes killing too easy. We are not murderers by nature, but we have stepped outside of nature, and we have to make adjustments for that.
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According to my copy, this book was originally published in Austria under the title: Das Sogenannte Bose: Der Naturgeschichte der Aggression. The English translation is copyright Konrad Lorenz (1966). I strongly recommend this book as being as relevant now as it was then ('63-'66). It is an excellent book about why a dog is a man's best friend and not another man. The dogs understand. We don't.
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I own and train a doberman for protection work. This book was recommended by my trainer. Absolutely fascinating and completely changed the way I perceive aggression in dogs. I do not know how much I buy into the conclusions Lorenz draws in connection with human aggression but just reading the research regarding animals makes the book priceless. Not an easy read but worth it!! I do not think you can fully understand animals without it.
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Why do we kill in each other? Why are humans so irrational when it comes to dealing with issues in a nonviolent way? In his book, On Aggression, Konrad Lorenz has attempted to answer that question. Lorenz has diagnosed the human condition and reasoned humans are the most violent species in the world because of our intelligence and lack of reason. As a reader of Lorenz, I have come to the conclusion that Lorenz is a modern day classical thinker approaching an issue that has haunted mankind for all times.
Lorenz sees mass society as an inherent component to war, violence, and aggression. He depicts mankind's situation as a spectator from Mars would view it and diagnoses how aggression is caused by "human nature" but also how humans feed off each other's aggression. Lorenz proceeds to explain how man is susceptible to a type of frenzy due to what he labels as militant enthusiasm. In mass society, aggression is an extremely contagious component and is inherent in harnessing the destructive side of the human potential.
Here Lorenz shows an approach much akin to Einstein's view on war. However, where Einstein failed to reason out that man is destructive by nature, Lorenz makes no attempt to hide mankind's irrationality. Freud also approached this issue in his book Civilization and Its Discontents, but Freud saw violence as impossible to cure whereas Lorenz sees a possible treatment to this aggressive side in the development of human understanding of mankind's situation and through the enlightening of reason.
Upon reading Lorenz I have come to the conclusion that the man is a modern day classical philosopher educated in anthropology. He refers constantly to Greco-Roman themes.
"Know thyself."
This quote was said to have been engraved over the shrine of Apollo at Delphi.
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