Human Nature's Potential for War and PeaceThis somewhat lengthy essay begins with the question, "Why do people fight wars?" In search of an answer it looks first at immediate sources of conflict such as economics, nationalistic pride, racial, ethnic and relisious difference, freedom and oppression. Such factors in themselves, however, are not suffieient to explain why war occurs since any one or combinations of these factors can and do exist for long periods of time without war errupting.
The discussion moves to a second level at which three causes of injustice and conflict developed by Martin Luther King, Jr. are explored as explanations of why people fight wars. Materialism, militarism and racisn, which I extend to include ethnic and religious prejudice, are discussed in their individual and social forms to elucidate how they differ as sources of conflict. These sources of injustice are real and produce tensions, unrest and violence, including wars, but they do not in themselves explain why they do so. Moreover they can and do exist for long periods of time without producing war.
A third level of discussion turns directly to the question of why the factors discussed at levels one and two so often produce war. It does so by an exploration of human nature. Plato becomes the philosopher taken as companion in thinking. The discussion moves from "Why war?" to "How peace?" as it moves through Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," "Figure of the Line" and the "three dimensioned soul" from the Republic to passages from Symposium and Philebus.
The essay concludes with an intense analaysis of the powers of mind, intelligence, which elucidates the amazing potential for peace latent in human nature. Work in Progress