Howell, Signe. 1989. “‘To Be Angry Is Not To Be Human, But To Be Fearful Is”: Chewong Concepts of Human Nature.” In Societies at Peace: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Signe Howell and Roy Willis, p.45-59. London and New York: Routledge, 1989. © Signe Howell

Prof. Howell argues that the plumber’s view of human emotions—that people have to “let off steam” in order to redirect their supposed innate aggressiveness—may be appropriate for some societies, but it does not apply to the Chewong. Their peaceful beliefs and their highly nonviolent social behavior patterns are largely the result of their concepts of human nature. In the Chewong worldview, moral values are closely tied together with ideas of what it is to be a human being: fearful and shy, not quarrelsome, brave, or angry. Howell describes the Chewong universe as including various types of superhumans such as the leaf people, which exemplify fearfulness and shyness, and the keoi, which are, by nature, brave and fearless. The keoi, like the neighboring Malays and Chinese, are also aggressive and may eat the Chewong.

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