Anthro 101 and Apes and Monkeys (was Re: [Marxism] Scopes redux)

Carlos A. Rivera cerejota at
Tue Dec 28 12:39:58 MST 2004

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Charles Brown" <cbrown at>

> That _was_ anthro 101 in 1968.

36 years ago. Centuries in contemporary science.

> Also the 1968 101 position is not anti-materialist as you assert. How do
> you
> figure that ?

It was materialist.

In 1968.

As I mentioned in passing in my original message, Lenin in "Empirocriticism" 
spoke a lot about "Ether", which even if Einstein and others at the time 
were questioning it, was very much the scientific concensus at the time.

Was beliving in Ether (or Aether) anti-materialist? Not at the time. Today, 
of course, it would be like beliving in ghosts or that the earth is flat.

But when I took antro 101 in 1996 (8 years ago!), I was taught that we 
indeed were apes,
and that there was just one family Hominidae with two sub-families Hominidae
(Homo and Pan, living or extinct) and Pongiade which is where the orangutans
go. And as I mentioned this debate is on going, but I am comfortable with
the level of research and mainstream acceptance.

But even this was shown not to be entirely correct by some in this very 
list. To view science as static, is to deny dialectics.

> I would say the second "sapiens" in homo sapiens sapiens is "dangerous".
> How can there be subspecies that are not races ?

This is a misunderstanding of what a subspecies is. A subspecies is not a 
"race". It serves to describe a large scale genetic (and sometimes 
morphological) differences within a single species.

The second sapiens in sapiens is used to separate us from a now extinct 
species of Homo sapiens, the Homo sapiens neanderthalis, which most 
scientists belive to be an Homo sapiens, but has a very distinct and unique 
morphology (and presumably genetic make up) than contemporary humans.

On the other hand, "races" are essentially a non-scientific way of 
describing morphological differences between groups of the same species, and 
are really an ideological construction, with no base in genetics or any 
other science.

For example, Canis familiaris, the common dog, has 100s of "races" or 
"breeds", some of which are impressively different morphologically, yet only 
one subspicies, the Canis familiaris dingo, the Australian Dingo, which 
looks like a big cross of a wolf and a fox. This due to the fact that even a 
huge mastiff and a tiny toy chihuahua are genetically almost identical and 
together more similar to each other than to a dingo, but a dingo is still a 
member of their species, so there is a need to stress their differences by 
making a dingo a sub-species, and to stress their similary by making the 
dingo part of the species.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Charles Brown" <cbrown at>
> CB: Would we say we are monkeys , as well as apes ?

No. Apes and monkeys are both primates, but monkeys are a different branch 
(actually several different branches). The most visible difference is that 
monkeys have tails and apes don't, but there are other evolutionary, genetic 
and morphological differences.

Hence my comment that Lenin was incorrect in sustaining that we are "monkeys 
of an icy god". We are actually apes of an icy god.


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