Re: [OPE-L] Plekhanov on humans as tool making animals

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Sun Dec 31 2006 - 18:51:08 EST

The distinction between humans and hominoids occurred after Plekanov, at
his time the knowledge of the fossil record was much more limited and
one just had the vague concept of the 'ape man'.

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of glevy@PRATT.EDU
Sent: 31 December 2006 15:30
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Plekhanov on humans as tool making animals

> I think that Plekhanov is just referring to Engles' argument in the
> of Labour in the transition from Ape to Man.It seems plausible that
> Australopithecus was less competent in tool production than Homo
> and that there existed evolutionary pressure arising from tool use
> improved manual dexterity.

Paul C:

Plekhanov was not referring to hominids.  He was claiming that it is the
tool-making ability of human beings which is the distinguishing
characteristic of our species.  The problem with his claim is the clear
implication that as the forces of production develop there is
of the "artificial organs" of human beings which causes an
advance in humans.  If we were thus to compare humans from ten thousand
years ago years ago to humans today using this criteria then we would
have to say that humans today are "superior" -- from an evolutionary
perspective! -- to humans of yesteryear. I don't know of any reputable
scientist today who would make such a claim, do you? Isn't there
by anthropologists and others that humans today are the same
physiologically and they have the same DNA as  humans in that earlier
period when the "artificial organs" were less developed?

I don't think that Engels made quite the same claim as Plekhanov
the latter may have thought that his perspectives were based on the

> > 2. If the most essential criteria for how human we are is the state
> > our development of the forces of production, then doesn't it
> > necessarily follow that humans in contemporary social formations in
> > which there is a less advanced development of artificial organs are
> > less human than humans who have  access to and utilize more
> > sophisticated artificial organs?
> No

Why not?  It's implied by Plekhanov's claim.

In solidarity, Jerry

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