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091: Why Men Fight | Jonathan Gottschall

Why do men fight and why do we like to watch? These are a couple of questions I’ve asked myself before and ones that we attempt to answer with my guest today Jonathan Gottschall, an English professor with some real-world experience in MMA.

Today we talk about the nature of fighting, how fighting has evolved, the role honor plays in combat, and where the desire to make men more civilized comes from.

“Men are drawn to fighting as an urge to celebrate what’s best in human nature.” Tweet That
— Jonathan Gottschall

Jonathan Gottschall

Jonathan GottshcallJonathan Gottshcall is  a Distinguished Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College.

His research at the intersection of science and art has been covered in outlets like The New York Times, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, and NPR.

Jonathan is also the author of seven books, including The Storytelling Animal, which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice Selection and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

When he was 39, a cage fighting gym opened across from the English Department. He asked myself, “What would Hemingway do?” The answer is in his latest book, The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch.

“What drew me to fighting was the desire to do a brave thing.” Tweet That
— Jonathan Gottshcall

Show Highlights

  • Why are men so drawn to fighting
  • Whys modern society is somewhat uncomfortable
  • The evolution of fighting in masculinity
  • Two things to overcome when fighting
  • The value of an honor code in fighting and life
  • The role of “Ritualized Combat”
  • The concept of the “Monkey Dance”
  • The future of fighting
  • Where the desire for culture to make men more civilized comes from

“It is tremendously educational to get punched in the face.” Tweet That
— Jonathan Gottschall

Resources Mentioned

“Men want to do battle with the weakness and timidity within themselves.” Tweet That
— Jonathan Gottschall


The Iron Council

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“Bravery and courage are skills you can work on and train.” Tweet That
— Jonathan Gottschall

Connect with Jonathan Gottschall

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