RARELY in history have mankind's conflicts seemed quite so hard to resolve. Vast social changes are causing almost daily clashes that defy law and logic; from courts to legislatures, the old peace-keeping institutions are too often archaic and unresponsive. Blacks and whites, Arabs and Israelis, students and administrators, Frenchmen and Charles de Gaulle—all seem pitted against one another in postures of unmalleable pride.

Witnessing this worldwide obduracy, writers as disparate as Naturalist Konrad Lorenz and Novelist Arthur Koestler have redefined Homo sapiens as Homo maniacus, arguing that man appears doomed by some inherent...

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