[Marxism] Re: human origins

Nick Halliday halliday.nick at gmail.com
Tue Aug 9 00:26:46 MDT 2005

>>Human evolution had probably essentially ceased for some 10s of
thousands of years before the invention of language. Those features of
the brain and anatomy which made language possible were almost
certainly spandrels -- i.e. they piggy-backed on other traits and were
not themselves adaptive.>>

You mean in their other roles or in their roles of forming an
integreated ability at 'linguicizing and symbolling'?

I don't see how, if human evolution is real, that it has ceased.
That's an interesting teleology you have going there.

>> Homo sapiens (us -- modern humans) has been around
100,000+ years; language may have been _much_ more recent. Language
was undoubtedly essential for warmaking, for serious destruction of
the environment, for slavery, for the development of sophisticated
forms of torture. The species obviously had flourished without

Yet there is this arguable belief--it even pervades the humanities,
professor--that it is precisely language that separates humans from
even the most intelligent animals. I think you see a reformulation of
it in Chomsky, but goodness me even a lot of religious people believe

>> Only our descendants a hundred thousand years or more from now, if
there are any descendants, can judge whether language as such was a
"darwinian advantage." The tentative evidence is the opposite; that
language makes possible the suicide of the species.>>

I guess you are advancing the idea, like some others I've seen
recently on other socialist-related lists, that language makes humans
so successful that they will destroy the very earth their existence is
based on by being so successful at reproducing, populating,
manipulating and changing the environment, etc. Perhaps those who are
here to judge that won't be our direct descendants?

I'm not really sure any of this discussion answers the questions CB is
asking but thanks for it anyway.


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