Reply to Singh

In short, he first erects the "mobile, egalitarian, band-society" as a STRAW MAN and then sets about demolishing it to make his point that anthropologists have been fools and romantics. This is, essentially, the very same imaginary "Noble Savage" that Thomas Hobbes repudiated; the same fiction repeatedly resurrected and then demolished, with boring regularity, in the writings of other authors, such as Lawrence Keeley, Richard Wrangham, and Steven Pinker.  Worse, Singh is taking liberties with the truth.

How Chiefs become Kings: reflections on the fragile power of states

All societies have ranking among individuals. Some people, by the time they are adults, are more highly respected than others. This is based on character and reputation. It means that most children, as they mature, look to such people - usually respected elders - as role models, as embodiments of ideals.  The “fierce” egalitarianism of … Continue reading How Chiefs become Kings: reflections on the fragile power of states

Right and Left? Nope.

HELGA INGEBORG VIERICH·SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2018 “..The watchwords of the nineteenth century have been, struggle for existence, competition, class warfare, commercial antagonism between nations, military warfare. The struggle for existence has been construed into a gospel of hate. The full conclusion to be drawn from a philosophy of evolution is fortunately of a more balanced … Continue reading Right and Left? Nope.

Symbols:when a picture is worth a thousand words…

Nov 7, 2018 11: 50 pm Symbolic communication can be visual or auditory: it can, of course, also be tactile and olfactory. Spoken language is made up of vast numbers of arbitrary combinations of vocal sounds, which the invention of writing and numeracy transformed into visual symbols for communicating across time and space. It seems … Continue reading Symbols:when a picture is worth a thousand words…

Gardening in Eden

Nov 7, 2018 11: 50 pm The capacity for a learned and shared system of transmitting information between individuals, and across generations,  is culture, a secondary adaptive system that many social animals have. Humans developed culture into a major adaptive system. In humans this is a learned and shared collective "cognitive niche",  the "specialist" behavioural and cognitive … Continue reading Gardening in Eden

Man-camps for oil, timber, mining… are “wretched hives of scum and villianry”? Reflections on resource extraction.

Jul 7, 2018 8: 44 pm Want to understand the brutality at Standing Rock? This banal evil has deep roots in extractive industries.. The problems with the kind of work and other conditions in the “oil patch” that many Albertans (and other regions in both Canada and the USA - indeed all over the world) … Continue reading Man-camps for oil, timber, mining… are “wretched hives of scum and villianry”? Reflections on resource extraction.

Human Nature is shaped by Culture: here’s how…

Oct 9, 2017 3: 03 pm Humans, unlike whales and elephants, developed a system of learned behavior that was specialized at environmental manipulation – using technology to do everything from getting and processing food, to maintaining body microclimate. Tool use is, of course, prehumen: indeed, it is not limited to primates, and furthermore, creation of … Continue reading Human Nature is shaped by Culture: here’s how…

Thoughts on human evolution: what if modern behaviour and cognition come first?

The emergence of Homo sapiens, has been as contentious an issue as is the emergence of the particular  "Anatomically Modern” variant since the late Pleistocene, with more fragile jaws, chins, reduced or absent brow ridges, and elevated cranial vault.  Much has been made of brain size increases throughout human evolution, as indicative of conceptual augmentation … Continue reading Thoughts on human evolution: what if modern behaviour and cognition come first?

Why the Ecological Imagination Matters

“..The watchwords of the nineteenth century have been, struggle for existence, competition, class warfare, commercial antagonism between nations, military warfare. The struggle for existence has been construed into a gospel of hate. The full conclusion to be drawn from a philosophy of evolution is fortunately of a more balanced character. Successful organisms modify their environment. … Continue reading Why the Ecological Imagination Matters

Anthro-Ecology

Mar 10, 2017 5: 28 pm The fact that humans have generated a behavioral niche, – an anthro-ecology – within which other species of mammals and birds have been integrated, through natural and “artificial” selection, is clear. And it may be quite true that humans, being part of nature, constitute agents of natural selection along … Continue reading Anthro-Ecology

Domestication and the new mythology of human “perfectibility”

In 2007, a psychiatrist, Martin Brüne, wrote an essay “On human self-domestication, psychiatry, and eugenics” published in the journal Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, in which he declared:"In the biological literature following Darwin, the term “domestication” became increasingly poorly defined. The criterion of intentional and goal-directed selection, which according to Darwin’s definition was critical … Continue reading Domestication and the new mythology of human “perfectibility”

Ecological engineering illustrated in a painting

Check out this painting. Kungkarrangkalpa Tjukurrpa, 2015 by Australian indigenous artists Exhibition opens at The Box, Plymouth (and thanks to cousin Clair Drever for drawing my attention to this) Look at the bottom right hand corner - there is a group of people there. You know what this painting looks like to me? It looks like a … Continue reading Ecological engineering illustrated in a painting

The discovery that all human hunter-gatherers, throughout the at least the last 80,000 years, did ecological engineering, means that “wilderness” does not really exist.

THIS is what transformed humanity between 300,000 and 100,000 years ago - the development of a cultural system of environmental management that made the ecosystems of the world into gardens. And we of the "civilized" states, today, mistakenly call this all a "natural wilderness". This brings forcibly to mind what Ragai, a Kua hunter I … Continue reading The discovery that all human hunter-gatherers, throughout the at least the last 80,000 years, did ecological engineering, means that “wilderness” does not really exist.