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From the International Communes Desk (ICD) Study Group

            ON “HUMAN NATURE”        CALL 34 - Winter 2011/12

                                         During the past year the ICD decided that a portion of our
                                         bi-monthly meetings would focus on studying core questions
                                         facing intentional community as it interfaces with the
                                         normative culture of Western society.  We have done so
                                         utilizing both general sources as well as the perspective of
                                         the Jewish heritage.

                                         A core thesis relating to community is raised by skeptics –
                                         life in community, they say, is not in accordance with human
                                         nature.  But what is “human nature”?   What are the
                                         limitations imposed upon us by our innate nature?  Is our
                                         species, Homo Sapiens, individualistic and competitive by
                                         nature?  Are we inevitably fated to struggle in a “survival
                                         of the fittest”?   The question is posed against the
                                         backdrop of neo-Liberalism and social Darwinism current in
                                         much of contemporary Western society.

             For this issue of CALL, we have selected an excerpt from the social anthropologist,
             Alexander Alland.   In his book, THE HUMAN IMPERATIVE, (Columbia University

             Press, 1972) Alland responded to a series of books that viewed the human animal as
             subject to the behavioral limitations of other animals.  In particular, Alland related
             to books by Konrad Lorenz, ON AGGRESSION; Robert Ardrey, THE TERRITORIAL
             IMPERATIVE; and Desmond Morris, THE NAKED APE.

             THE HUMAN IMPERATIVE -  Chapter  1  –Introduction

             'THIS BOOK IS A DEFENSE of man against strict biological determinism. A defense
             against those who like Konrad Lorenz, Robert Ardrey, and Desmond Morris would
             oversimplify man's place in nature and reduce human behavior to the level of

             instincts. The book is also a
             defense of anthropology against
             the claim· that it is anti-
             Darwinian and unscientific.
             Lorenz and Ardrey have created
             a pseudo-conflict: science vs.
             romantic metaphysics. They
             suggest that biologists see man as subject to laws of behavior, while social scientists
             see man as the subject of special creation and therefore immune to biological rules.
             This is not and has never been the case. The question is put too simplistically and the
             battle lines have been falsely drawn.

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