1. 1 THE STUDY OF CONFLICT Polemos Pantoon Pater Heraclitus Conflict on all levels of organic existence is pervasive, persistent, ubiquitous. Conflict is the universal experience of all life forms. Organisms are bound in multiple conflict-configurations and -coalitions, which have their own dynamic and their own logic. This does t mean, however, that the more paroxysmal forms of conflict behaviour, naked violence and destruction, are also universal. Conflict and cooperation are always intertwined. Conflicts do, however, have a propensity to gravitate towards violence. There is, as Pettman (1975) pointed out, accepted or agreed list of the social units by which conflicts might be classified. To talk of conflict in intra- personal, inter-personal, familial, group, class, ethnic, religious, intra-state or inter-state terms is to assume, perhaps erroneously, that 'each kind of social unit, having its own range of size, structure, and institutions, will also have its own modes of interaction and thus its own patterns of conflict with other social units' (Fink, 1968) like and unlike itself. Such an assumption merits scrutiny on its own, since, despite the plausibility of some sort of analytical link between the parties to a conflict and the nature of the confrontation that ensues, the link should be demonstrated and t allowed to stand by assertion alone. This volume is devoted to one type of analysis of conflict, the socio- biological one.