Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).

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The Pursuit of Peace

Exploring the Possibility of a War-Free Future

Frank Visser / ChatGPT

Me to ChatGPT:

  • What are the causes of war? And what are the means to prevent it? Could you shed some light on these questions from a scientific perspective?

Follow-up questions

  • What are currently the important voices in polemology, the scientific study of war?
  • Are there relevant non-Western authors in this field of polemology?
  • These are all men. Are there any relevant female voices in this field of polemology?
  • Has war always been an element of human culture? Have wars increased or decreased during history?
  • Is anything known about animal warfare, for example among chimpansees?
  • Is a future without war thinkable or is war inevitable?


The causes of war are complex and multifaceted, and there isn't a single definitive answer. However, many scholars and researchers have explored this question from various perspectives, including political science, sociology, psychology, and history. Here are some common factors that contribute to the outbreak of wars:

Power and Territory:

Conflicts over control of land, resources, or strategic locations have historically been a major cause of war. Nations may engage in armed conflict to gain or protect territories that they consider important for their security or economic interests.

Ideology and Beliefs:

Differences in political ideologies, religious beliefs, or cultural values can lead to conflicts that escalate into war. Clashes between nations with divergent ideologies or conflicting religious or ethnic identities can fuel tensions and trigger violent conflicts.

Competition and Rivalry:

Economic competition, including competition for resources, markets, or economic dominance, can create tensions between nations. When diplomatic or peaceful means of resolving disputes fail, it can lead to a resort to military force.

Nationalism and Identity:

Nationalistic sentiments and the desire to assert or defend a nation's identity or sovereignty can contribute to conflicts. Strong nationalistic fervor, combined with historical grievances or territorial claims, can drive nations toward war.

Alliance Systems and Security Dilemma:

The complex web of alliances and security arrangements among nations can inadvertently contribute to the outbreak of war. When one nation perceives a threat from another, it may seek alliances or build up its military capabilities, leading to a security dilemma where each side's actions are seen as aggressive by the other.

Failure of Diplomacy and Negotiation:

Diplomatic failures, breakdown of negotiations, or a lack of effective communication channels can lead to a breakdown in peaceful resolutions and an escalation toward armed conflict.

To prevent war, scholars and policymakers have proposed several means from a scientific perspective:

Conflict Resolution and Mediation:

Encouraging dialogue, negotiation, and mediation between conflicting parties can help prevent conflicts from escalating into full-scale war. Diplomatic efforts aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions can be effective in resolving disputes peacefully.

International Institutions and Law:

Strengthening international institutions such as the United Nations, regional organizations, and international law can provide a framework for resolving disputes and promoting peaceful relations between nations. These institutions can help foster cooperation and discourage unilateral aggression.

Economic Interdependence:

Promoting economic interdependence between nations has been suggested as a means to prevent war. When nations are economically dependent on each other, they have a stake in maintaining peaceful relations to ensure continued economic benefits.

Cultural Understanding and Education:

Promoting cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and education can help reduce misunderstandings and prejudices that can contribute to conflicts. By fostering empathy and respect for different cultures and beliefs, societies can build bridges and reduce the likelihood of violent confrontations.

Arms Control and Disarmament:

Limiting the proliferation of weapons, promoting arms control agreements, and pursuing disarmament efforts can reduce the likelihood of wars. By reducing the availability and capabilities of weapons, the potential for armed conflicts can be diminished.

Addressing Root Causes of Conflict:

Addressing the underlying causes of conflict, such as poverty, inequality, and social grievances, can contribute to long-term peace. Investments in development, social justice, and inclusive governance can help reduce the likelihood of violent conflicts.

It is important to note that preventing war is a complex and ongoing endeavor, requiring the concerted efforts of governments, international organizations, civil society, and individuals.

What are currently the important voices in polemology, the scientific study of war?

Polemology, or the scientific study of war, encompasses a range of disciplines and perspectives. There are several important voices and scholars contributing to the field, each bringing unique insights and perspectives. Here are a few prominent voices in polemology:

Political scientists

Kenneth N. Waltz:

Known for his work on international relations theory, including the seminal book "Theory of International Politics," Waltz's structural realism framework has influenced the study of war and conflict.

John J. Mearsheimer:

His work on offensive realism and the security dilemma has shaped the understanding of how power dynamics and security concerns can lead to conflicts between states.


Charles Tilly:

Noted for his research on the relationship between war, states, and social transformation, Tilly emphasized the role of state-building and organized violence in shaping modern societies.

Michael Mann:

His work on the sources of social power and the role of military force in state formation has contributed to understanding the connections between war, state power, and social change.


Niall Ferguson:

Known for his extensive historical research and analysis, Ferguson explores the causes and consequences of war throughout history, including the impact of financial and economic factors on conflicts.

John Keegan:

A military historian, Keegan's works, such as "A History of Warfare," provide comprehensive insights into the evolution and nature of warfare across different time periods and cultures.

Peace Studies Scholars:

Johan Galtung:

Considered one of the founders of peace and conflict studies, Galtung's work focuses on understanding the causes of conflicts and developing strategies for peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

John Paul Lederach:

Known for his work on conflict transformation and peacebuilding, Lederach emphasizes the importance of grassroots initiatives, reconciliation processes, and building sustainable peace.

International Relations Scholars:

Martha Crenshaw:

Her research primarily focuses on terrorism and political violence, examining the causes, strategies, and responses to terrorist acts and insurgencies.

Jack S. Levy:

Known for his contributions to the study of the causes of war, Levy's research explores the role of power, uncertainty, and the bargaining process in international conflicts.

These scholars represent just a few of the important voices in polemology, and there are many others who contribute to our understanding of war from various academic disciplines. It's worth noting that the field of polemology continues to evolve, and new voices and perspectives continually emerge as researchers explore the dynamics of war and seek to develop strategies for peace.

Are there relevant non-Western authors in this field of polemology?

Yes, there are several relevant non-Western authors who have made significant contributions to the field of polemology. It is important to recognize and incorporate diverse perspectives from different regions and cultures when studying war and conflict. Here are a few notable non-Western authors in the field:

Mahbub ul Haq (Pakistan):

Haq was an economist who emphasized the importance of human development and social justice in preventing conflicts. He co-authored the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Reports, which shed light on the relationship between development, inequality, and peace.

Zhang Xiaoming (China):

Zhang Xiaoming is a prominent Chinese scholar who has contributed to the study of international relations, security, and military strategy. He has written extensively on China's defense policy, regional security dynamics, and the evolving nature of warfare.

Ashis Nandy (India):

Nandy is a social psychologist and political commentator who has explored the psychological and cultural dimensions of violence, conflict, and nationalism. His works provide insights into the relationship between identity, memory, and violence in postcolonial societies.

Mohamed Mahjoub Haroon (Sudan):

Haroon has written extensively on peace and conflict in Africa, particularly focusing on Sudan and the broader region. His research addresses issues such as conflict resolution, post-conflict peacebuilding, and the impact of regional dynamics on peace processes.

Kishore Mahbubani (Singapore):

Mahbubani, a Singaporean diplomat, has offered insights into global politics and international relations from an Asian perspective. His works challenge Western-centric narratives and advocate for a more inclusive and equitable global order.

Raja Shehadeh (Palestine):

Shehadeh is a Palestinian lawyer and author who has written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its legal and human rights dimensions. His works shed light on the experiences of individuals living in conflict zones and the challenges of achieving peace in such contexts.

These authors, among others, provide valuable perspectives from non-Western contexts and enrich the study of polemology by offering diverse insights, experiences, and approaches. Incorporating their perspectives helps to broaden our understanding of war and conflict beyond Western-centric frameworks.

These are all men. Are there any relevant female voices in this field of polemology?

Apologies for the oversight in my previous response. Indeed, there are several influential and relevant female voices in the field of polemology. Here are a few notable female authors who have made significant contributions:

Cynthia Enloe:

Enloe is a feminist scholar and political scientist known for her work on gender and international relations. She has explored the gendered aspects of war, militarism, and conflict, shedding light on the roles of women in conflicts and the impacts of war on gender dynamics.

Mary Kaldor:

Kaldor is an international relations scholar who has focused on the concept of "new wars" and the changing nature of armed conflicts in the post-Cold War era. Her work emphasizes the importance of understanding the complex dynamics of contemporary conflicts, including their social, economic, and political dimensions.

Christine Fair:

Fair is a political scientist who specializes in South Asian security issues, particularly focusing on the India-Pakistan rivalry and the Kashmir conflict. Her research explores the drivers of conflict and the impact of political dynamics on security in the region.

Nadje Al-Ali:

Al-Ali is a sociologist and anthropologist who has conducted extensive research on gender, war, and social movements in the Middle East. Her work delves into the experiences of women in conflict-affected societies, highlighting their agency, activism, and resilience.

Jessica Stern:

Stern is a terrorism expert and political scientist who has written on the motivations and behaviors of individuals involved in terrorism. Her research examines the psychology of perpetrators and the strategies for countering terrorism.

Chantal Mouffe:

Mouffe is a political theorist who has contributed to the study of agonistic politics and the role of conflict in democratic societies. Her work emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and managing conflicts as a means to foster more inclusive and participatory politics.

These female authors have made significant contributions to the study of war, conflict, and peacebuilding, offering unique perspectives and insights. It is crucial to acknowledge and amplify the voices of women in polemology and other related fields, as they bring valuable perspectives and expertise to the analysis and understanding of war and its consequences.

Has war always been an element of human culture? Have wars increased or decreased during history?

War has been a recurring element in human history, and evidence suggests that conflicts and organized violence have existed for thousands of years. Throughout different eras and regions, wars have taken various forms, involving different scales, motivations, and technologies. However, it is important to note that the frequency and scale of wars have varied over time.

In terms of assessing whether wars have increased or decreased throughout history, it is challenging to provide a definitive answer due to limitations in data availability and the complexities of historical analysis. Moreover, the definition of war itself can vary, which makes comparisons across time and cultures challenging. However, scholars have examined trends and patterns in conflicts and armed violence to gain insights into historical changes.

One perspective is that prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies had relatively low levels of large-scale organized violence due to smaller populations, mobility, and resource availability. However, the transition to settled agricultural societies marked a shift towards more frequent conflicts over land, resources, and social hierarchies. The rise of states and complex societies further institutionalized warfare, with the development of standing armies and the conquest of territories.

There have been periods of relative peace and stability, such as the Pax Romana in ancient Rome, where large-scale conflicts were minimized within the empire's borders. Similarly, the absence of major conflicts in Europe during the 19th century, often referred to as the "Long Peace," stands out as a period of reduced interstate wars.

In the 20th century, the two World Wars brought unprecedented levels of destruction and loss of life. However, since the end of World War II, there has been a decline in the number of interstate wars, largely due to factors such as the formation of international institutions, increased economic interdependence, and the deterrence provided by nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that conflicts still persist in various forms, including civil wars, insurgencies, and regional conflicts. Additionally, new forms of warfare, such as cyber warfare and asymmetric conflicts, have emerged in the contemporary era, posing new challenges to peace and security.

Overall, while it is difficult to make definitive statements about the historical trajectory of wars, there have been periods of both increased and decreased conflict throughout human history. Understanding the causes, dynamics, and patterns of war is essential for informing efforts to prevent and mitigate armed conflicts in the future.

Is anything known about animal warfare, for example among chimpansees?

Yes, research has shown that certain animal species, including chimpanzees, engage in behaviors that can be characterized as warfare or intraspecies aggression. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing about 98% of our DNA, and their social behavior has been extensively studied in the wild.

Observations of wild chimpanzees have revealed instances of lethal intergroup conflicts, where neighboring chimpanzee communities engage in violent encounters. These conflicts can involve coordinated attacks, territorial disputes, and the killing of individuals from rival groups. Researchers have documented behaviors such as raiding, boundary patrolling, and coalition formation during these conflicts.

It is important to note that chimpanzee warfare differs from human warfare in several ways. Chimpanzee conflicts are generally smaller in scale, involving smaller groups of individuals, and are typically limited to specific areas or territories. Moreover, while human warfare can be driven by a variety of complex factors, including political ideologies, resources, and cultural differences, chimpanzee conflicts primarily revolve around territorial defense and access to resources, particularly food.

Chimpanzee warfare is not a constant or universal behavior among all chimpanzee populations. Some chimpanzee communities exhibit more peaceful relations with neighboring groups, while others display more frequent and intense aggressive interactions. The factors influencing these variations are still being studied, but they likely involve a combination of ecological, social, and genetic factors.

Studying animal warfare, such as chimpanzee aggression, can provide insights into the evolutionary roots and potential adaptive functions of conflict within and between species. However, it is essential to be cautious when drawing direct parallels between animal behavior and human warfare, as there are significant differences in the complexity and motivations underlying human conflicts.

Is a future without war thinkable or is war inevitable?

The question of whether a future without war is thinkable or if war is inevitable is a complex and debated topic. While it is challenging to predict the future with certainty, it is important to recognize that the possibility of a war-free world has been envisioned and advocated by many throughout history.

Some argue that war is an inherent and inevitable part of human nature, rooted in competition, aggression, and conflicting interests. They believe that as long as these aspects exist within human societies, the potential for conflicts and wars will persist.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that war is not an inherent aspect of human nature but rather a product of specific historical, social, and political conditions. They argue that by addressing root causes of conflicts, such as inequality, resource scarcity, and ideological divisions, it is possible to create conditions conducive to peace and reduce the likelihood of war.

Many movements and initiatives have emerged with the goal of promoting peace and preventing wars. International organizations like the United Nations, regional bodies, and grassroots peacebuilding efforts work towards conflict resolution, diplomacy, and the promotion of human rights as means to prevent and mitigate conflicts.

Advancements in technology, communication, and globalization have also brought nations closer together and increased interdependence, potentially reducing incentives for large-scale conflicts. Economic interdependence, international treaties, and disarmament efforts have contributed to relatively stable periods of peace in certain regions.

However, achieving a future without war is a complex and multifaceted challenge. It requires addressing underlying factors that contribute to conflicts, fostering international cooperation, and developing effective mechanisms for conflict resolution. It also involves promoting social justice, addressing inequality, and working towards the well-being and security of all individuals and communities.

While it may be difficult to envision a world completely free of conflicts and war, it is essential to strive for peace, advocate for nonviolent resolutions, and work towards building a global society where conflicts are minimized and disputes are resolved through peaceful means.

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