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Human Uniqueness

(Text as at 21/08/2007 15:04:19)

(For earlier versions of this Note, see the table at the end)

This seems to me to be another popular error.

  1. Firstly, who’s to know what lines of hominids developed in parallel with homo sapiens, but have been exterminated? I’m personally not sure whether the Neanderthals were truly a separate species – though since they have a species name (homo neanderthalis) I assume that the consensus is that they were. They appear to have lived concurrently with homo sapiens, so if they were indeed a separate species, we have another example of a self-conscious species apart from modern man. This assumes the Neanderthals were indeed self-conscious … and they seem to have been since they had a concept of an afterlife, as they buried their dead. The planet isn’t big enough for two successful self-conscious species to coexist, at least in the same habitat, and since homo sapiens has colonised most areas of the planet, that doesn’t leave much room for others.
  2. Secondly, chimpanzees, bonobos, orang-utans and dolphins appear to pass the “mirror test”, usually taken as a sign of a concept of self. Of the other likely candidates, elephants don’t and gorillas are doubtful. There’s a lot of controversy about this, but there’s a movement afoot that grants culture to animals (in the sense of non-genetic traits discovered and passed on by animal societies, rather than a wish to spend a night at the opera). "De Waal (Frans) - The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist" (referred to above1) is a good book along these lines.

Table of the Previous 2 Versions of this Note:

Date Length Title
20/08/2007 17:51:22 1152 Human Uniqueness
16/08/2007 14:44:10 24 Human Uniqueness

Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
21/08/2007 15:04:19 526 (Human Uniqueness) Simon - T1S1

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Hunter-Gathering Psychology        

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

Hunter-Gathering Psychology Simon - T1S1, 2      

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