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kironin
04-12-2007, 05:45 PM
Given the general philosophy of Aikido and that it has at times been called the Art of Peace, I am interested in the peoples reaction to this article and where they see aikido fitting into the bigger scheme of things.
:ki:

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

Jerry Miller
04-12-2007, 08:36 PM
I could hardly get past the first paragraph because it grossed me out so much. I would like to think there is a special place in hell for people who mistreat animals. I would also like to think that when people die that they would first have to face the animals that have been in their life and that the animals will decide where they go from there. Sorry it really disliked that idea of sport.

Erick Mead
04-12-2007, 09:05 PM
I could hardly get past the first paragraph because it grossed me out so much. I would like to think there is a special place in hell for people who mistreat animals. I would also like to think that when people die that they would first have to face the animals that have been in their life and that the animals will decide where they go from there. Sorry it really disliked that idea of sport.We have to face up to the innate capacity, even enjoyment of cruelty that exists in all men, not excluding ourselves if we are to transcend it. Not eliminate it -- it is in our nature. Transform it.

Your point reminded me of the depiction of this same theme on cruelty that was once very common in English society -- bear-baiting and other such things. William Hogarth did engravings on various moral subjects in eighteenth century London. One series was called the "Four Stages of Cruelty." The first image of a series of four on the stage includes a depiction of a scene very much like what you found objectionable: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Cruelty1.JPG
His point, in part, was that we must see things as they are to change them. The full series has a very "karmic" feel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Stages_of_Cruelty#First_stage_of_cruelty

bkedelen
04-13-2007, 02:06 PM
I read this entire article and it sounded convincing, but the article is directly contradictory to the incredible mountain of evidence gathered by Grossman in his fascinating tome "On Killing". Grossman has significant evidence that fighting men throughout history have made a significant effort to avoid killing, and that only modern military training methods have motivated the average solider under normal circumstances to fire his weapon at the enemy. Grossman does talk about a specific sub-category of soldier who is more comfortable under battle stress and is more likely to have no objection to the application of lethal force. Grossman links this type of soldier with antisocial personality disorder, and speaks about how such soldiers are often unable to function appropriately in normal society.

dbotari
04-13-2007, 02:11 PM
IGrossman in his fascinating tome "On Killing". Grossman has significant evidence that fighting men throughout history have made a significant effort to avoid killing, and that only modern military training methods have motivated the average solider under normal circumstances to fire his weapon at the enemy.

IIRC, Grossman's "On Killing" studied only military conflicts and military men. I think his conclusions are propoably correct in that context.

I think the author of "A History of Violence" may have taken a bigger slice of violence (i.e. not just "warfare") such as the violence inheret in everyday life.

Just my take.

Kevin Leavitt
04-13-2007, 02:15 PM
I think On Killing can apply to the civilian world as well. Kids play video games and watch shows, and receive conditioning that makes things impersonal and makes them more willing to pull the trigger or us violence. Detachment from the personal nature of things is a big part of the problem I think. Our society has many things which allow the same type of conditioning that military personnel go through to be able to do their jobs.

dbotari
04-13-2007, 02:22 PM
I don't doubt it applies. My comment was to explain the apparent dicotomy between the two works in question. One ("On Killing") argued that violence was increasing whereas the other "A History of Violence" makes the opposite case that mankind has become less violent over time.

Kevin Leavitt
04-13-2007, 02:30 PM
Yes, I see your point in that context...sorry...I agree it takes a more macroscopic view of things vice "on killing" which is looking at a particular root causes of the violence that does exsist.

bkedelen
04-13-2007, 02:34 PM
Grossman does not discuss video games, nor does the US military use gaming as a training tool other than in an experimental capacity (last I heard). Note that the US military does use gaming extensively as a recruiting tool, along with other methods of targeting individuals more likely to exhibit antisocial personality disorder. The primary method of eroding a human's innate resistance to harm another in a specific way is to give him the weapon he is supposed to use, then point him at a human shaped dummy, and drill him to employ his weapon in one or two pre-defined ways. Later he can be taught much more advanced methods, once his resistance is broken down. A secondary method is to develop weapons that allow fighting men to dis-associate themselves from the actual death of their foemen. Weapons such as bombs and artillery do not have a visceral impact on their primary operators, and therefore circumvent much of our innate resistance to their effects.
To tie this into Aikido, I think Osensei paid significant attention to his innate feelings on many issues and tried to integrate some sort of "organic" feeling into his budo. This resulted in something which appears to be absent of the brutish characteristics often exhibited traditional military methods, but in fact results in no loss of functionality while simultaneously nourishing rather than breaking down the innate goodness of the practitioner. Please note that there are definitely other traditional methods that nourish the goodness of the practitioner, but Aikido is uncommon in that such nourishment is an explicit part of its stated goal.

Kevin Leavitt
04-13-2007, 02:50 PM
Benjamin,

Where are you getting your information from?

Grossman does discuss video games and virtual reality in this book. Pages 261, 303, 314-316, 323, 324, 326 discuss the issues of video games and violence.

Military does use video games and related technologies. I run a major Army Training Center as the Chief of Training here in Europe, we use the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, UCOFT is video based, I believe the Marine Corps used a version of Doom a few years back, as well as many others.

Military does not target people with anti-social behaviors. We don't want those type...they are not good for the army.

We do have video games used as advertisement tools to reach the current generation of 18 year olds out there, but does not target any specific behavioral traits...it takes all types of well balanced personalities in the military. Normal people.

Amir Krause
04-15-2007, 04:49 AM
I think On Killing can apply to the civilian world as well. Kids play video games and watch shows, and receive conditioning that makes things impersonal and makes them more willing to pull the trigger or us violence. Detachment from the personal nature of things is a big part of the problem I think. Our society has many things which allow the same type of conditioning that military personnel go through to be able to do their jobs.

The video game introduction is very new compared to the scale presented in this article, and any effect it might have would be a small blimp compared to the time scale.

However, one very important element is missing when analyzing the level of violence based on archeological findings - the level of medicine has changed significantly.
Any simple cut can become deadly if you don't have antibiotics and your hygiene is normally low...

On general, I agree the theory of the good life of old is a myth. I would rather not replace my life with any European king of the middle ages. The current average life quality in the west today is way beyond the dreams of royalty in those days ...

Amir

Ellis Amdur
04-15-2007, 09:28 AM
Grossman's work, although important, is flawed in a number of ways. First of all, he is talking about warfare by civilized men - who have already been socialized against violence. Secondly, warfare itself has another component that is a disinhibiter against violent acts - the enemy is trying to kill you too. Thus, one can be inhibited against, say, stabbing someone with a bayonet and rather, turn the weapon around to bludgeon them because a) training breaks down when one is terrified and one reverts to "primitive" responses (when people are frightened, they fight by flailing overhand, like children and chimps) b) in a situation beyond "bad," one inadvertently tries to find a way out - like praying or wanting to call "time out," one doesn't fire one's weapon because it's "wrong," but because one is in a situation so wrong. What Grossman is talking about is that there are two parts of combat in war - one is the willingness to do violence (which is an innate capacity) and two is the need for training to do so within the unnatural/complex/terrifying situation of war. Maintaining yourself within formation with shrapnel flying around, continuing to fire in coordination with one's fellow soldiers is not equivalent with the delighted group solidarity of hunting down outsiders in a community and looting their homes and beating them to death. In short, I think it is a misread of Grossman to take from his work that people are fundamentally peaceful and have to be trained to be violent - that without that training they wouldn't be. Pinksker rightly notes the myth of the peaceful "savage" - for a few decades, the !Kung of southern Africa were extolled as the exemplar of what we all really were "back in the day" - and it is true that their culture has many wonderful aspects. However, their peacefulness is belied by their appallingly high murder and rape rates, that occur in intact communities, not only those that have been affected by contact with Europeans and therefore, allegedly, not pristine. THE DARK SIDE OF MAN is a worthwhile counterpoint to Grossman.

KIT
04-15-2007, 02:33 PM
There is growing discussion in the tactical community regarding Grossman's findings as well. He based a lot of his data on S.L.A. Marshall's work, and the content of the latter seems to be coming into question lately.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=grossman+sla+marshall&btnG=Google+Search

Tim Fong
04-15-2007, 02:56 PM
Kit,

There's some interesting stuff on S.L.A. Marshall's methodology in About Face, by the late David Hackworth.

Hackworth makes it sound like Marshall was simply making stuff up.

Cady Goldfield
04-15-2007, 03:38 PM
AFAICS, the elements of warfare, from the macro- (entire countries) to the micro- (individuals) levels boil down to the drive for genetic (and memetic) replication and procreation, the "Prime Directive" of life on Earth. Life is about males seeking both access to females and the resources females seek to raise their offspring. Life is also about females themselves seeking those resources for their young, usually by becoming connected to a powerful male.

This drive to Be Fruitful and Multiply thus requires power and aggressiveness to acquire those resources.

Violence within a population is a little more complex, but still comes from the same wiring. Sometimes the wiring just goes awry. Life isn't a perfect system. ;) I'd say that there are aberrations, such as psychoses, in the primate brain that can spawn counterproductive violence in individuals. External pressures and stressors such as poverty can precipitate and exacerbate the aberrent behavior. Under the "right" sets of stress circumstances, a creature will gnaw its foot off. It will also kill its young. Humans are subject to the same responses under such given sets of circumstances.

But the prediliction toward war-making and genocide is not aberrant human behavior; it is part of natural primate behavior. It's recorded in the Hebrew and Christian bibles and other religious documents because it is a natural, observable part of the human condition. BTW, so is the tendency for adolescent and post-adolescent young males to form gangs and anti-social, violent groups -- political and non-political. It's all about access to resources and the power needed to acquire them. Primate species such as langurs form gangs for the same reasons. Read Hrdy's "The Langurs of Abu." Ants regularly wage war on genetically-unrelated colonies, raiding them to slaughter the residents and abscond with the eggs and larvae to raise as slave labor! So, what else is new? They've been doing it for hundreds of millions of years.

Because humans have intellect and conscious thought, we can reflect on the nature of war and suffering, and how lovely the world would be if we could live in peace for all time. But that ain't who we are. I learned that from watching Star Trek. ;) The Chinese also say that "you must eat bitter in order to be able to taste that which is sweet." If we didn't have wars, we wouldn't know what peace is, would we? If nothing else, being warlike gives us plenty of material for movies, poems, music and folklore.

Ellis Amdur
04-15-2007, 03:39 PM
Kit - I'm glad to see that what didn't make sense to me in reading and hearing Grossman - based on my own experiences with aggressive individuals and own reading - is borne out by researchers of war and combat. Also - I misspoke above - It is not a "misread" of Grossman. It is a mistake of Grossman would have been more accurate.
Best

dbotari
04-16-2007, 09:30 AM
AFAICS, the elements of warfare, from the macro- (entire countries) to the micro- (individuals) levels boil down to the drive for genetic (and memetic) replication and procreation, the "Prime Directive" of life on Earth. Life is about males seeking both access to females and the resources females seek to raise their offspring. Life is also about females themselves seeking those resources for their young, usually by becoming connected to a powerful male.

.

So we can blame it all on women! ;) :D

Cady Goldfield
04-16-2007, 09:47 AM
Well, of course! :D And you see it expressed in the creation tales of almost every known patriarchal religion and culture, (with the exception of pre-patriarchal fertility worship, such as from pre-Judaic Semitic creation tales, in which female creative powers were revered -- It's where Lilith came from -- she was Adam's equal, created seperately and at the exact same time as Adam ..."male and female created He, them..." which he came to resent and asked the Almighty to cast her out and give him someone more submissive. So, there came Eve from his rib. ;) This precedes the story that appeared later in the Mosaic Pentateuch. but has remained preserved, handed along in Semitic/Jewish cultures for perhaps 6,000 years), the Greek story of Pandora, and the Hebreo-Christian bibles' own Adam & Eve. of course!

Seriously, IMO the problem arises from the drive for replication itself, which is primal and supercedes intellect and rationale, though it may be twisted and corrupted by such to form aberrant behavior. In societies where women are severely repressed and controlled as chattel, it represents the extreme of males needing to control access to females, the prevention of other males inseminating "their" females, and the male control of the ability of the females themselves to control their own sexuality and pregnancies/births -- to maximize the controlling patriarch's replication of his own genes.

So, to flip the blame, I say let's blame men for not being able to understand or control their sexual/power/control drives, and then blaming it on women (calling them "sucubus" and seductresses)! :p

dbotari
04-16-2007, 09:53 AM
So, to flip the blame, I say let's blame men for not being able to control their sexual/power/control drives...

Stand back! I'm not sure how big this thing gets!:D

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I promise no more off topic segues.

Dan

Cady Goldfield
04-16-2007, 10:00 AM
Lol
Well, who can say that the War Between the Sexes is not part of this topic? We're talking "war," aren't we? :D

bkedelen
04-16-2007, 10:19 AM
Sorry for the red herring of Grossman (not the most ridiculous red herring in this thread). I can see the difference between a mob mentality and an individual trying to deal with combat stress. I think my thoughts on the subject were a bit tainted by my own hope that man has innate goodness, although at this moment I cannot think of a single good piece of scientific evidence to that end. The idea that "socialization" creates a resistance to violence (an admittedly over-simplistic summary of the article using Amdur sensei's verbiage) is interesting and worth some consideration. Older folks occasionally remark to me that they do not feel that society has the respect that it used to, and many traditional systems such as Japanese budo teach etiquette as a serious discipline. Do you folks feel that the etiquette of those traditional systems has been lost? Does it still lurk within our social systems, disguised by subtlety but working behind the scenes to make us a more peaceful society? Is it something else entirely that socializes people against violence?

Cady Goldfield
04-16-2007, 10:49 AM
Benjamin Edelen wrote: Do you folks feel that the etiquette of those traditional systems has been lost? Does it still lurk within our social systems, disguised by subtlety but working behind the scenes to make us a more peaceful society?

Sorry to say, it probably has been part of human observation in every generation since the begining of humankind!

When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of
elders, but the present youth are exceedingly 'wise' and impatient of
restraint.
--- Hesiod, Eighth Century B.C.E.

Besides, etiquette is frequently used as a facade of civility over a core of savagery and bigotry. ;)

bkedelen
04-16-2007, 10:49 AM
Kevin, I may have been unclear in my post about video games. I know that the US military uses video games for training purposes (flight training is an obvious example). I was just not sure that they used video games for the purpose of breaking down a "socialized" recruit's resistance to use his weapon on the battlefield. If you know that games are used for this purpose, I would really like to hear about it, since this is an area of great interest to me. I want to believe that video games by themselves do not break down this resistance. Video games appear to me to be the latest in a long list of things to blame other than parents when a kid does something terrible.

dbotari
04-16-2007, 11:39 AM
[QUOTE=Benjamin Edelen;175633] Do you folks feel that the etiquette of those traditional systems has been lost? /QUOTE]

IME, I am encountering more young people today who want to separate the techniques from the art (Aikido). In other words, "I don't care about the cultural affectation and all the etiquette, I just want to learn techniques." I have found that these same people often hold little regard for rank and therefore when being corrected on techniques become rather confrontational and rude.

This attitude baffles me because I've never viewed any Budo as anything but a method of training body, mind and spirit. So the cultural, philosophical, psychological, mental etc aspects are all equally as important as the physical.

FWIW

Dan

Kevin Leavitt
04-16-2007, 03:11 PM
Benjamin wrote:

Kevin, I may have been unclear in my post about video games. I know that the US military uses video games for training purposes (flight training is an obvious example). I was just not sure that they used video games for the purpose of breaking down a "socialized" recruit's resistance to use his weapon on the battlefield. If you know that games are used for this purpose, I would really like to hear about it, since this is an area of great interest to me. I want to believe that video games by themselves do not break down this resistance. Video games appear to me to be the latest in a long list of things to blame other than parents when a kid does something terrible.

I have never been told that we target explicitly this area in the military with a direct intent to do this. Obviously when you join the military we really want you to pull the trigger and shoot the "bad guys". So we have a myriad of was to do this.

In my training, certainly I have been conditioned to instinctively shoot at that which needs to be shot at without thinking much about it. Prior to "locking and loading" I know the parameters in which I will pull the trigger. It is a endstate of training and more training, mental conditioning, and preparation.

We shoot "Ivan's"on the 300 meter pop up range. We have video games that have people come at you, both friend and foe.

We spend a great deal of time these days discussing laws of war, ethics, military law, escalation of force, and rules of engagement.

I think Ellis Amdur covered the topic pretty well, and actually I think he is spot on concerning his dilineation of Grossman's philosophy. There is a difference between the response of shooting just anyone, and shooting a "bad guy", "skinny", "Ivan", or whatever name we use to de-personalize and objectify our enemies.

On another note, I am sad to hear of the shooting that happened today at Virginia Tech...I just found out about it in the last hour. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone.

Kevin Leavitt
04-16-2007, 03:16 PM
On another note. I am not a pyschologist or anything, but I would think that video games, while maybe not the root cause, certainly do contribute to the problem. They allow many kids to detach and withdrawl from reality. They allow them to become exposed to violence that is not natural nor real. They do not recieve counseling, parenting, or mentorship to deal with many of their issues.

I would think that video games, for many, taken to an extreme, and coupled with many other factors contribute to maybe say a "willingess", or "conditioning".

Conversely, I think that it is also possible that these games can serve as an outlet and an expression.

Personally and philosophically, I do not think it is good to expose kids to much of the violence that they are exposed to in our world today. I try and limit what my kids see, do, and practice in this area. When they do witness, participate, role play in these areas, I am careful to mentor, guide, and create an awareness of their actions and try to instill mindfullness in them concerning violence.

Cady Goldfield
04-16-2007, 03:37 PM
Kevin, do you think that's any moreso than violent television shows, movies, comic books/anime and the like? Most video games seem more about pushing the buttons/moving the joystick in time than actually becoming the character you're manipulating. The violence is kind of the same as in any other media outlet.

Of course, the deep fantasy role playing stuff is another story...

Kevin Leavitt
04-16-2007, 09:23 PM
Cady,

I do not know if it is or not in reality. Philosophically, I can say, I don't think it is good for someone to spend an inordinate amount of time watching or participating in acts of violence. Certainly not as a primary means of entertainment.

I do think it is one thing to watch a movie like say "Saving Private Ryan", and another to play many of the video games that are on the market for hours and days. Again, I am sure many would say violence is violence..where do you draw the line?

I can only tell you that it makes me feel different to watch some movies, shows, games, than to watch others.

In the last few years I have rented several movies that I have started to watch only to stop and return without finishing because I felt the violence was unecessary or excessive. An example of a movie in which violence was the central theme, was necessary to the over all movie, and was handled appropriately was Hotel Rwanda.

At the moment I cannot think of a bad example...maybe some of the crime detective shows on TV these days which seem to have to provide more and more graphic detail to keep the ratings up???