Date: Tue Nov 21 2006 - 15:01:03 EST
> But Marx is NOT proposing any substantive theory of > anthropogenesis or of human nature here, nor is he defining > the anthropological specificity of humans in terms of human > labour. Jurriaan: That did not stop Anton Pannekoek from treading where Marx did not roam, though. Anton Pannekoek, in 1944, also --like Engels -- did not "imply that labour is the *only* ingredient which distinguishes humans from non-humans". Pannekoek lists 3 prime characteristics which distinguish humans from other animals: 1) abstract thinking 2) speech 3) human- made tools (see "Summary" below). I'm not sure if this was an enlightened, progressive perspective in 1944. But, from the standpoint of 21st Century science it seems very assertive and out-of-date. In solidarity, Jerry <http://www.marxists.org/archive/pannekoe/1944/anthropogenesis.htm> Anton Pannekoek 1944 Anthropogenesis: A Study in the Origin of Man - First published: by the Amsterdam Academy of Sciences; signed by Ant. Pannekoek Sc. D., Professor, University of Amsterdam. Summary There are three characteristics, which, to a great extent, distinguish man from the animals; abstract thinking by means of conceptions, speech, and the use of tools fashioned by himself. The problem of anthropogenesis is to find out how, from the small traces of analogous properties in animals, these qualitatively entirely different human characteristics could develop. Animals too make use of dead objects to suit their own purposes, but only man shapes them into tools according to a conscious plan. The tool in the human hand performs the same function as the bodily organ of the animal. The grasping hand was a necessary condition for the manipulating of tools and this was inherited from the arboreal life of man's ancestors. Social life was another condition for the use of tools, because only in communities could it be preserved and knowledge about it thus be transferred to the next generation. Because the tool is a separate and dead object it can easily be replaced when damaged, interchanged for a better one, and differentiated into a multiplicity of forms for various uses. It can be improved upon continually by new inventions, thus raising man into increasing superiority above the animals. Animals too have consciousness and a certain intelligence. The stimulus of bodily needs and sense impressions induce direct action as a response. In man this direct connection is broken; the impressions are collected in the mind, and afterwards action comes spontaneously. Thinking follows a detour, or rather many detours which must be compared; numbers of images interpose between impressions and actions, forming chains of ideas that are objects of observation by our own consciousness, and take the character of abstract concepts. In the brain the distinction between man and animal appears only as a quantitative difference; the brain-weight of man (for the same body size) is four times larger than with the anthropoids, and so is the surface of the cortex. Whether the frontal lobes, usually considered as the organ of abstract reasoning, are relatively larger in man is uncertain. Animals utter sounds of emotion, which in social groups serve as signals of warning and communication. In man these sounds are words, auditory symbols conventionally designating quite different things, names for objects and actions. They constitute a language, a perfect and complicated apparatus of intercourse serving for co-ordination of action. Speech is an organ of community that can only originate and exist in a community, as a condition of collaborate activity and fight; it embodies and preserves the ever increasing mass of knowledge. It can only exist with a certain faculty for thinking; on the other hand human thinking would not be possible without speech. Concepts can be formed and retained only by expressing them in names and words; conscious thinking is always speaking with one self by means of words. The use of tools was an important factor in the origin of human thinking. The tool interposes itself between organism and outer world, between stimulus and action. It compels action, and hence thinking, to make a detour, from the sense impression via the tool to the object. Because there are many tools there are many detours, and a choice must be made after following out all of them in the mind before acting. The separation between the construction of the tool beforehand and its use afterwards produces a separation in the mental processes and makes theoretical thinking a distinctive activity. The tool objectivates the previously instinctive action, and by the visible results of its working awakens consciousness of the concept of causality. Speech too was greatly induced by the use of tools. Since a tool was alternatively object and part of the subject it struck the attention first of all as a separate object; and by its importance for labour and life some sound, accompanying action which involved its use, became attached to it. These dependencies are shown by the anatomical fact that in the cortex the speech centre is formed only in that hemisphere which innervates and directs the hand holding the tools. For most people this is the left hemisphere, whereas for left-handed people it is the right hemisphere. Because these three special human characteristics are all dependent on one another they could develop only together. This they did from mere traces, each in common growth mutually strengthening the others, and each by its small increment inducing increases in the others, the whole of the process being supported by the previous growth of the brain. The first impulse came from a change of life conditions that made man's ancestors inhabitants of the plains with an erect posture. Then, in some hundreds of thousands of years, with extreme slowness at first, and afterwards more and more rapidly, the use of tools, the faculty of speech, and abstract thinking developed. The previous development of the animals, because the changes in bodily organs depend on biological processes, took place extremely slowly, and always by the formation of new species. The rapid development of this one species Homo Sapiens was possible because the early interchangeable and artificial tools had replaced the bodily organs and could be improved increasingly rapidly by the struggle for life. Thus man became master of the earth, and his rising put an end to the development of the animal kingdom. In the last part of his rise, some thousands of years ago, the invention of writing, adding visible and lasting symbols to the passing sounds of spoken language, marks the beginning of civilization. It produced theoretical science as a basis for a continuous technical progress, which is now nearly about to unite all mankind into one self-controlling community.
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