Transition in genus homo (was Engels and indigenous peoples)

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Mon May 14 09:06:27 MDT 2001

>>> gschofield at 05/12/01 01:13PM >>>


A grammar internalises some of this, it remains non-reflective and
unconscious, but produces a new element quite different to the immediacies
of the communication involved. I would call this announced intention.


CB: So, grammar in the sense of there is a subject of a sentence, an active, purposeful  agent, perhaps ?


ability to take the varied communications on board, understand them as
relating to one another and promoting an imagined solution from which the
ancestral Homo could then announce as her/his intended action (obviously
very low level intentions).



CB: I see what you say about ritual and storytelling below as an important indicator of the existence of the socio-historical or symbolling, and the evidence of the greatly expanded social in the archaelogical record

The next factor is evidence of ritual behaviour, which so far has been
found only amongst us and our cousins the Neanderthals. The long history of
Homo Erectus, shows tools, fire (I think) and a little cannibalism but
nothing yet suggesting ritual.

Ritual is an important archaeological indicator, however, it would seem to
also indicate a biological symbosis between extended language abilities
(intimated by changed anatomical arrangements of the head and neck -
suggestive of vocal chord modification), a huge new development of the
frontal lobes of the brain (the conscious and descision making part) and
symbolic representations in "art" form - and other indications of social
life as we know it.

My view is it is a bit much to expect the hard-wired grammar to also be
obtained at this time and that it makes much more sense of its earlier
development for other purposes.

Fully conscious humanity is necessarily story telling humanity. I would
strongly link it to increased vocalisation, producing more controlled and
varied speech would bring the bonuses of grammar up immediately (this would
easily allow for many more feed back loops at no extra cost to the built-in
grammar). Story telling shows (and ritual is its physical representation) a
mind capable of conscious self-reflection (that is reflection on thinking


I would use these crude analogies.

An animal that does not recognise itself in a mirror, has no reflective
ability at all - it is a overwhelmingly responsive creature - purely

Apes do recognise their reflections, they a self-aware and can (passively)
recognise themselves objectively.

Early Homo could through "computation" actively express their objective being.

Humans can examine the expressions of their objective being, and thus know it.


CB: I still think that the development here should not emphasize individual reflection, or the individual awareness of its objectivity, rather the individual member of the species as growing in leaps in ability to have a consciousness that reflects, and as you say is even a mass Subject, active not only passively reflecting, reactivating in that the living subject reactivates ancestoral subjects, individual members of the species. The individuals also grow in their ability to think collectively with others in the living generation. What is important in individual reflection is that the individual increases its capacity to "hear many voices" in its head, conceive of the self as a unity of the many and diversity of the group , "synchronically and diachronically" , as they say.

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