One Nation Under War: A Sociocultural Exploration of the Psychology of Violence and the American Example
In both academic and non-academic spheres, the problem of human violence in general, and war in particular, is commonly thought of in terms of nature versus nurture. These approaches are deficient in that they disregard the holistic quality of human psychology. Neglecting this holism becomes problematic for psychological theorization on violence and war because its mistaken dualistic assumptions (such as that between mind and body or that between self and context) establish the fallacious view that the human psyche is something that functions independently from embodied-cultural life. If carried out without these dualisms, however, psychologies of war can then be understood through holistic considerations regarding cultural context, embodied practice, and phenomenological ethics. The author’s goal is to first critique prevalent theories on psychology and violence, or warlikeness, and then to provide an alternative methodology that reorients the discussion towards this more holistic realm. This approach to understanding the psychology of war is then applied to U.S. American culture. It is argued–because psychology and warlikeness are to be understood as issues pertaining to context and embodiment–that capitalist culture, rather than some private, abstract, transcultural notion of the human mind, shapes the American psyche of war. A theological discussion ensues on how humans can avoid becoming psychologically shaped into agents capable of warlikeness, whether through action or attitude.
Dueck, Alvin C.
War and society, Violence, War and society, United States
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