[OPE-L] pre literacy

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Nov 25 2006 - 18:00:40 EST

It seems that my messages under the old subject header are blocked.

> I am not saying that pre-literate human cultures can not be
distinguished from
> the cultures of other species. The most significant difference is in the
degree of development of language in all human cultures which far
exceeds that achieved by other species for whom the language has been
properly studies.

What does degree of language development mean? You seem to think there is
ape language--a respectable but controversial position. So at what degree
does language become human? This is why it seems to me that you put the
emphasis on the written nature of languaage so that you had some specific
difference vis a vis non human animals. But in doing that you implicitly
put non literate human cultures closer to non human animal 'culture' than
literate culture.

This is a technology of information
> transmission which allows a pre-literate culture to store and
> transmit between generations much more information than can be
> transmitted by other species.

Which technologies of transmission do we need? Do we need technologies for

> However, it is only with the development of large scale agriculture and
urban society that people come to dominate the eco-system.

Well whether domination turns out to be what this is, we'll see. But I
don't see how you have proven that the kind of domination about which you
speak required a literate culture or a technology of transmission which
was extra somatic.

> Along with this there develop technologies of record which are
> necessary for :
> a) the coordination of large scale collaborative labour
> b) the planning of large scale engineering or architectural projects c)
the accretion and cross fertilisation of technological specialities

Why does this require extra somatic info transmission mechanisms?

And why can't we locate human uniqueness in terms of invented kinship
structures or cosmologies without which social reproduction and meaning
(arguably necessary for humans to endure social life) would be impossible?

Why choose the criterion you have chosen? What grounds it? Why say that
certain human cultures have not enjoyed the attributes or traits which you
consider to be uniquely human? Why are you not concerned about the
invidiousness of your thesis? Or do you deny that there are worrying and
possibily humiliating consequences to your thesis?

> I would argue that these technologies of record are a pre-requisite for
the forms of productive forces and the forms of labour collaboration
required by a society that comes to dominate the eco-system.
> I am unaware of any society that has dominated the eco-system without
the aid of technologies of record. You say my claim is false, so can you
tell which examples you are thinking of?

Why does a so called hunter gatherer society not successfully 'dominate'
its eco system?


> Note that by technolgies of record I do not just mean writing,
> it also includes other means of storing and transmitting information:
quipu, tallies, clay vessels containing tokens, etc.
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