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On Aggression

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,445 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Paperback, 324 pages
Published October 23rd 1974 by Mariner Books (first published 1963)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  1,445 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book was written around 50 years ago. It may be one of the earlier solid attempts in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. The subject of the book is aggression. Aggression, which is between the members of the same species, should not be confused with the predatory behavior towards the members of other species. Lorenz, one of founders of ethology, presents a detailed treatment of aggression in animals and the purposes that it serves. Then he moves on to humans. The implication is that a ...more
Abubakar Mehdi
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Lorenz, a famous ethologist and a somewhat controversial figure for his ideas, proposes that human beings, like most of other vertebrates, are inherently aggressive and this aggression is triggered by a variety of situations. Therefore, if we understand the instinctual behavior patterns in animals, we can explain a thing or two about human behavior too.
Now, this is a wonderful book. I learned about the gorgeous and aggressive coral fish, geese, rats and many amazing things about other animals.
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Behavior is not excused or justified but can be explained. Human behavior is no different. Auschwitz is not a German problem, any more than Wounded Knee or the Little Big Horn white or Indian problems. Until we learn to accept the fact that these are human problems we will continue to rationalize the fact that we are dangerous predators and unlike a shark are fully aware of that fact, and choose to ignore it.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Threapists, teachers, parents
The author was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for this book. It looks at the functional nature of aggression as it is found in nature in animal populations and explains much of human behavior in the context of its natural root in any society or group. It is fairly easy to read in the first few chapters, and then I experienced some interest doldrums which I am currently stuck in. However, it has so much applicable information in the first few chapters that regardless of what is left for me to read, ...more
Samuel Viana
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
I've know about Lorenz since I was a little boy. I remember that when he died, in 1989, the portuguese TV reminded his name in a TV documentary of some episodes about the life of the man that could made little goslings walk beside him and everyone feel fascinated by those pictures.
Konrad Lorenz ant the greylag goose
I've heard about is ideas on human behaviour some years after that and I reminded curious about the observations he have made about them, some like: the intraspecific competition and the way the aggression first appear
May 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
There was a lot of racism here, as well as classism and sexism. The author's thought processes often seemed incomplete and were difficult to follow. Many of the chapters contained very little of the content their titles led me to expect. It felt as though the author was trying to cover too much, and as a result many of the topics that I did find interesting never received enough detail. I also wonder how much of the information and speculation about non-human animal behaviour in this book is acc ...more
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Konrad Lorenz proposed in “On Aggression” the theory that the violence is something good and necessary for all the animals. Self-defense would be the reason why species have developed this mechanism of behavior over the centuries. Unfortunately, Lorenz had a big knowledge about animals, but he did not understand this matter in all its complexity. Erich Fromm, in his book “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness”, made a total critique of the theories that Lorenz proposed in“On Aggression”. And, it ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. I started it two years ago, I felt it a bit slow, so I moved on to something else.
A few weeks ago It caught my attention again, I want to think it's me who has changed a lot in that time, because somehow the book was now incredibly interesting.
Konrad Lorenz's sense of humor and witty jokes make this book very enjoyable. The few final chapters were my favorite.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gateway into evolutionary biology. It takes the universal animal "condition" of aggression, a facet of the fight or flight response, that has over time become refined by social rituals and "cultures" of behaviors, and goes full-blown behavior-study-analysis into how this could occur, and further extrapolates what this means for humankind, having evolved from "lesser" (lower-tiered among certain strata) animals. The definition of aggression is important to get right here: Lorenz se ...more
Benjamin L.
On Aggression is a classic in the ethology literature, first published in 1963, and when I picked it up off the shelf of a second-hand bookstore I was mostly looking for the scientific romance that characterised science literature back then. I did not expect it's central message to be so strong after all these years - a testament to both the strength of the science, and the humility Lorenz shows when going 'beyond the science of the day' - nor did I expect it to be so painfully topical. I began ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impossible to rate anything but five. Should be required reading for all human beings. One of those rare books which make you look at the world from a whole new angle. It offers countless vital insights into social existence and- even if you think man is something fundamentally different from other animals - forces one to look at many a social phenomena in a new light. Well written, absolutely riveting - and extremely important.

Lorenz makes too many fascinating points to mention, but here are th
Sanja Zanni
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
A very important piece of writing put together in an overly ambitious fashion.
As a science oriented individual I do agree everything stands, but the data itself is stacked up in a big cluster and not that easy to follow. Must agree with the comment Lorenz pointed out in the prologue when his friend said it wasn't clear what all of this adds up to.
But to be fair, I hoped for much more paragraphs similar to those from the last 3 chapters - a comparative approach and an analysis of humans or at l
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
The info on coral fish - interesting. The info on geese - interesting and humorous. There is lots of stuff in this book about the functionality of and speaking about the adaptive value of aggression that makes a lot of sense when it comes to fish, geese and even some mammals. Though don't count on the chapters regarding human aggression telling you anything useful. ...more
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant in the truest sense
Darren Douglas
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
While the research behind the subject deserves high praise, I couldn't help but find this book labourious. I'm wondering whether it is because of the style of writing or the time in which it was written.

The first few chapters were excellent but then it just dropped off and seemed to be repetitive.

The last chapters picked up a bit and once he started to apply his research to human behaviour it was better.

All in all, this book has left me slightly perturbed and disappointed.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this in Jr High and really got into it. I just reread it and still loved it.
Anna Rodnishcheva
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting but not practical
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Long ago.
Jane Curthoys
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He writes and drops you into clear pond of water full of images. Even a university paperback is full of beauty
Edwin Reffell
i read it years ago and am rereading it now in the face of surreptitious world feminist dominering dictatorship to their own detriment and naturally delight.
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Five stars for Lorenz's book; many less for Lorenz the man. ...more
Kolya Kalinin
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting and useful book for understanding the nature of aggression and ways to reorient it.
Unfortunately, there are not enough chapters for me to explore human aggression for me.
But the last two chapters are beautiful anyway.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this so long ago that its hard to remember details, just that it inspired me to ask deeper questions about aggression in all animals, humans included. Instinct? Gender twisted? The one idea I remember is that male bonding and aggression are linked: aggressiveness in men might be necessary for male bonding and that is important to human life. I was a graduate student with a focus on how animals form and maintain social groups when I read this book. I remember writing to David Bygott who wa ...more
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ru, kindle
This books tells you a lot about aggression, what it is good for, how animals of different kinds cope with it, how it relates to love, etc. -- interesting stuff! What really impressed me were the stories about animals who turn out to be "highly emotional people of very limited intelligence" (Lorenz quoting from Oskar Heinroth). They love, can be jealous, suffer when the loved ones do not pay attention to them, get depressed or enthusiastic, feel sorrow and mourn the loss of close friends. Indeed ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
stunning book. perhaps one of the most underrated books ive ever read. a bit boring i shoud add in parts when it goes into animals and random fishes a bit too much but the ecce homo chapter is almost as good as Nietzsches book of the same name! - the book talks about how historically (cromagnon, neanderthal days) weve had vens for our agression but now in an over ritualized societies we dont have as many opportunities for catharsis. and when we do it explodes. the chapter on rats and the link to ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I was actually very bored by this book. Most of the ideas are very outdated. Often times it was very difficult to follow the point he was trying to make. Much of the behavior we know, you can find some of a base in his theories. Often he makes some of his ideas into absolutes. Any behaviorist/scientist knows there are no absolutes when it comes to other beings' behavior. Read it for fun but don't expect to get much out of it. ...more
Sep 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bria by: Ben L-T
Mostly I like to learn about the habits and behavior of animals. Humans are a pretty ok animal to learn about the behavior of, but you hear about them all the time, so it's not quite as fun, but I don't mind it as much when it's just peppered in among stories about other species. I think Lorenz has a pretty solid view of some repercussions of the fact of human biology, that some humans don't seem to understand, even now, some fifty years later. ...more
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: social scientists, peace activists, people interested in massive social change, anti-speciesists
Shelves: animals
This book, though it's very pre-identity politics, had a lot of excellent takeaways for me, as a peace activist. It shows how human behavior and animal behavior (humans being animals) reveal patterns that can help us understand how to break free of self-destructive and socially-destructive behaviors like war. ...more
Steven Peterson
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Konrad Lorenz was one of the most eminent ethologists of his era. This book is his extended speculation about the nature of aggression. It is a good exposition of his views. However, his theoretical perspective, based on the concept of "instinct," was a bit simplistic. Nonetheless, a classic of its kind. . . . ...more
Rose Boehm
Jul 05, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: refusing-to-read
Started it but won't read it now - if ever. It's Konrad Lorenz, of course. The master. But I have found one species that doesn't exist and it fills me with dread to think that if we are nothing more than animals (which I personally doubt), nothing will change. I mean, the famous 'human nature'. And that I can't believe. ...more
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Konrad Zacharias Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch. He is often regarded as one of the founders of modern ethology, developing an approach that began with an earlier generation, including his teacher Oskar Heinroth.
Lorenz studied instinctive behavior in animals, espec

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