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Commitment and Polygamy

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Leo Ryan Macatimpag                                                                12 – C

Commitment and Polygamy

        The concept of man’s inherent characteristic on whether he is inherently polygamous or monogamous is a heavily debated topic. Numerous arguments have been made so as to expound and explain both sides. For the purposes of this synthesis paper, both sides of this debate shall be analyzed so as to provide an accurate and factual synthesis on the topic.

        To start off let us first discuss the concept of commitment in the aspect of interpersonal relationships. Commitment represents the motivation to stay in a relationship and to work at it.  In general, commitment motivates people to sacrifice their self-interest and short-term rewards, and to inhibit immediate negative impulses, on behalf of the relationship. The most common example of interpersonal commitment is marriage.

        The definition of marriage varies around the world between different cultures and societal groups, but it is typically known as a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. To assess the nature of man in the context of being either polygamous or monogamous. One may look towards the history and origins of marriage and how it came to be the modern institution it is right now.

        Marriage was borne of ancient societies' need to secure a safe environment in which to breed, handle the granting of property rights, and protect bloodlines. But even in these early times, marriage was much about love and desire as it was social and economic stability. Understanding of marriage contrasted greatly from culture to culture.

        Some cultures viewed the institution as endogamous (men were required to marry within their own social group, family, clan, or tribe), exogamous (marrying outside the geographical region or social group) or polygamous (allowing men to take more than one bride). Polygamy was formally banned towards the end of the Roman Empire with laws against adultery, fornication and other relationships outside a monogamous lifelong covenant. But this is limited only to western culture, many different cultures still practice polygamy in the form of marriage. Considering the history of marriage, along with the fact that 80% of early human societies were polygamous. This definitely boasts a strong argument towards man being inherently polygamous, or at least that monogamy is not natural to human beings, as even in a scientific standpoint, a study on the evolutionary biology of animals and people show that we humans have a biological imprint of polygamy.

        But this leads us all to the question of how the modern “ideal” monogamous relationship came to be, with the fact in mind that polygamy has been proven as natural to humans. This may be answered by referring to the common goal of all men. Happiness. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are 3 main subgroups of human needs. Starting from the most primal we have basic needs which include physiological needs, safety and security. The second one which, we will be focusing more on, are the psychological needs. According to Maslow, belongingness, love and prestige all fall and are considered as human needs. The adaptation of monogamous relationships is a phenomenon of social psychology wherein centuries of societal evolution and adaptation birthed monogamous relationships where in this hierarchy of needs are easier to meet due to the presence of someone to be readily able to give the belongingness and love man cannot live without. But the adaptation of monogamous relationship did not come from the need of belongingness alone. Having two parents for the raising of an offspring proved advantageous rather than dealing with one alone. To sum up the argument on the side of monogamy. It is an adaptation of society for man to be able to satisfy his hierarchy of needs and to better cater to raising offspring.

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