Ja, ons menselijke ontstaansverhaal. Het vertelt hoe wij van mensapen tot talige wezens geworden zijn. Wat taligheid doét met een dier. Wij leven in een woordenwereld, een wereld van benoemde dingen. Voor ons bestaan de dingen slechts als we er een woord voor hebben. Dichters zijn ‘scheppende kunstenaars’: met hun woorden scheppen zij hun poëtische werkelijkheid.
Vandaar dat ik ons ontstaansverhaal ‘scheppingsverhaal’ durf te noemen. Het onderscheidt zich van de oude scheppingsverhalen dat het op wetenschap gebaseerd is. Let wel, het is dus geen wetenschappelijk verhaal, want ik ben geen wetenschapper. Ik gebruik er wel alles wat de relevante discipline-wetenschappen zoals antropologie, archeologie en paleoantropologie aan gegevens aandragen, bij om zo dicht mogelijk bij de echte gebeurtenissen te komen die ons gemaakt hebben zoals we vandaag zijn.
Want wat is waarheid? Dat is de werkelijkheid van heden en verleden, blootgelegd met alle voor ons beschikbare wetenschappelijke middelen. Aangezien de wetenschappen alsmaar blijven doorgaan, blijft de waarheid altijd onderweg. Het is als een steeds verschuivende horizon, de waarheid groeit met ons mee. Voorwaarde is dat er alles bij in stelling gebracht wordt en dat er niets buiten beschouwing gelaten wordt. Elk wetenschappelijk feit dat niet mee mag doen, trekt het bouwsel van de waarheid scheef.
Versie 9 juni 2015
I wrote a nice book. In English. My English. Too poor English to publish. Even PublishAmerica didn’t release it. Nevertheless a shocking good book, titled New view on human nature.
It explains how we, humans, former apes, became so special in nature. Nobody succeeded to explain this till now, and I do it in this book. So it is a shocking good book. I tell a consistent story about how our earliest ancestors became lingual creatures.
Even the concept of lingualty is new. So I have to tell you what lingualty is. Lingualty is the mental state wherein an ape population comes when they have names for the things in their environment. In my book I explain what having names for the things does with an animal. Continue reading
In the Dutch newspapers and periodicals in the last decade a repetitive discussion is taking place on public morality. Continue reading
(update 3 jan.06)
This dialogue is a daydream. First: I always dream of finding somebody
else like me. Second: I live in a nice Dutch cottage in an agrarian environment.
Lately, in my daily walk, I met a contemporary. (I caught him up, I’m 72 years old,
so always in a hurry: much to do!) We walked together, talking about Muslim extremism.
Because it is my ‘life-work’ in my decrepit age, I told him what I knew. He appeared to be interested
like me and I invited him to pursue our talk in my house: he had to wait for his wife who was for foot-care at my neighbours.
The talk was about monotheism.
I said: this is something else than religion.
What is the difference?
In brief: humans are religious perhaps already 2 millions of years long. Monotheism, the worship of the ‘One and Only True God’, dates from 622 before till 650 after the beginning of our era.
So God worship is a casual cultural phenomenon that has to be learned. Religious feeling is something all humans are born with; is part of human nature.
Huh?? Human nature? But that’s something bad! When philosophers talk about human nature, it is always in the negative!
Philosophers have – sorry – poor scientific knowledge about human nature. Prejudices or notions of ancient philosophers enough. But we can know better today. I’ll try to describe human nature also in short for you.
Human nature is the innate human behaviour with roots from three pasts: 1. the past of every life-form dating from 3.9 billion years ago; 2. the past of being a social mammal (like elephants, dolphins and apes) dating from 20 million years ago (mya) and 3. the past of our ancestors, dating from 6 mya.
ad 1. The life of every life-form is the struggle of getting as much energy out of the environment as possible for staying alive and for procreation. In concurrence with other life-forms who live from the same sources. This is the self-instinct.
ad 2. In group animals like apes rages the same struggle of getting as much energy out of the environment, but now also as a group. Social mamals can realize their aims for staying alive and for procreation better by living in a group and struggling together. This requires that each member delivers a part of his selfish instinct up for the sake of the group harmony. The more harmonious the group, the better for each of its members.
So social animals (included humans) feel two conflicting inner drives: the selfish and the social. To handle these conflicting drives, individuals learn social behaviour in youth. (Included humans again: our toddlers in the nursery aren’t that social beings yet!) But not from bottom up: they are born with the social instinct. They only learn to handle it conform the culture they are born in.
ad 3. Our early ancestors perfected this social behaviour, like they perfected (‘professionalised’) some more ape skills and facilities (going on feet, throwing things, gesturing, etc.) under pressure of the new conditions they were fallen in. The only new attaint facility is names for the things, or linguisticness. In our symbolic communication the conflicting innate drives are named, as ‘good’ (social) and ‘bad’ (selfish).
To explain ‘ad 3’ I have to explain linguisticness. But also for explaining religious feeling and monotheism. To make clear all these things I have to reveal you our human origin story…
OK. You have a nice place here! And I have to wait anyhow. So go on!
our origin story
(Keep in mind that the detailed telling of our story requires a book. What here follows is an abstract)
Adam and Eve, I suppose?
No, that is a story of believers who have no scientific knowledge of our past. Each tribe had and has his own stories. Adam and Eve is a Middle East tribal story that in more recent times became the creation story of the Holy Books of three monotheistic religions. What you get here is a scientifically based story. That you have not to believe but to control. Listen.
Till eight million years ago (8 mya, I prefer abbreviations) humans were apes; a kind of chimpanzees. Normal animals, like all other animals in nature.
Since 8 mya climatically cooling began to do them out of their ancestral rain forest. The choice was between dying out or adapting to the new conditions: a savannah environment.
We descent from a population that succeeded in the essential adaptations, like going on their feet to carry things (particularly stones for defending against predators) and division of labour between the sexes (women and children gathered food and men cared for safety with their stones).
They ‘lived’ and slept in the woods where every evening each individual braided his nest high in a tree (sleeping platforms; children slept with their mother on her platform). But they foraged, in a closed group, on the dangerous savannah.
That’s common sense in archaeology, isn’t it? I’m interested in our past also. When you get older, your interest in history grows, oddly enough!
Indeed: common sense so far. But not so common is the notion that our ancestors became a real new kind of animals by developing names for the things.
Names for the things … much more kinds of animals have their specific communication!
Every kind of social animals has his own means of communication, but no other kind developed names for the things. A totally new phenomenon in the history of nature: creatures that can communicate about something absent! For example about a predator on a far place, a nourishment in a coming season, a possible danger.
In first instance it was a female solution in urgent need of better communication in this far more complicated foraging situation.
What fossil is an ancestral fossil, do you think?
We descent from a population that succeeded the essential adaptations to become human. But more kinds of apes succeeded to adapt to savannah conditions. More kinds of hominids too. All those kinds died out. I think with a little help of our ancestors.
All australopithecene fossils found till now can be put together on a sizable billiard table. But I doubt if there is one ancestral fossil between them. They have been found without a label, have they?
Forget this fossils. (However, each new found makes my day!) We reconstruct behaviours with the information of much more sciences than palaeontology or archaeology alone.
Linguisticness or names for the things don’t fossilise. That’s why palaeontologists or archaeologists know nothing of linguisticness.
How do you know about linguisticness then?
Because I’m not a scientist. A scientist is limited to his discipline. When she or he is sneaking in an other discipline, the scientists there growl or even bite! A scientist is busy enough in his own niche of his discipline anyhow and doesn’t feel himself competent for the whole story
What is your competence then?
I’m a portraitist! …………. ……..
No-no-no! Sit down, keep quiet! I did academic study. I am a Ph.D. I’m reconstructing our past since I, as an adolescent, decided for myself that there is no such thing as a God. By the way: do you want a beer?
OK. Nice place here! Your paintings, all over here?
Of course! I have to make my living myself.
Your paintings are competent anyhow! Your grandchildren?
Three of them. The youngest is on that painting over there, on her mothers lap.
Your daughter? Nice young woman!
Her mother was a goddess!
Isn’t she nice now anymore?
I’m no young god even! How old are you?
Oh, a young grandpa like you! But how did you learn to paint when you are a Ph.D.? Autodidact for the most. But in more then fifty years practice … like my origins reconstruction …
OK. I trust you. I have little to choose anyhow!
…. and I told you before: you have to control my story! Cheers!
Cheers! And now: Names for the things! What’s so special on names for the things?
Names for the things does something to an animal. It creates a feeling of distance between the ‘namer’ and the ‘named thing’. Between subject and object. Our ancestors were the first (and only, and presumably last) animals that could objectivate.
A name for a thing gives a feeling of control over the thing. But it is above all the facility to deliberate with each other, that altered our ancestors from a frightened little population of bipedal apes to the ‘hooligans’ of the savannah. It is the accumulation of individual intelligence. But also the facility to transmit the knowledge of one generation to the next. Accumulation of knowledge! Also a totally new phenomenon in nature.
With gesture! No spoken words. Apes have no neurological control over their voices. Of course, they used their voices plentifully in their interactions. But without conscious control. They can neurologically control their hands, with those ten fingers. The linguisticness of our kind started with gestures (proto- sign language) of our earliest ancestors.
But how …
I suppose it started as the habit of one woman: imitation with her hands of what she meant. But her fellow women understood what she meant and joined in this useful habit. It advantaged the cooperation, the group flourished, the young women took the useful habit with them when they moved in another group for their partners and so the habit became the special culture of our whole ancestral clan.
From what period, do you think, our archaeologists find the first evidence of linguisticness? Evidence of totally new behaviour as fruit of this totally new power?
With the first stone artefacts, I suppose!
No, I had not in mind the use of artefacts. Other animals use some tools too, so the sophisticated artefacts of our early ancestors were not totally new in nature.
What I allude to is the use of fire.
No other kind of animal has ever used the fire. Nor will ever use. Because no other kind is, or will be, linguistic.
A name for a thing gives a feeling of control over the thing. A loss of fear or respect for the thing. It is also an instinctive defamation of the thing. Or a person: in most primitive tribes you may not name an adult by his or her name: feels like hurting her or his integrity. You have to indicate her/him with a circumscription like ‘sister’ or ‘uncle’ or ‘nephew’. The Jews may not name their God, but use a circumscription. Muslims may not portray the Prophet, because depicting is representing, like naming. Depicting somebody or making a puppet from clay or wax of him gives a feeling of power over the person. I think the depicting of hunting animals gave the cave painters a feeling of power preceding the real hunt. ….
OK! Stop! You made your point. The first evidence of fire, please.
Indeed most palaeontologists still doesn’t accept such an early dating of the use of fire. Most palaeontologists don’t even mention the use of fire, as if it was an incidental matter not worth mentioning. Even knowing no other kind ever has been so independent from nature and his animal nature that it could use the fire, still they take it for granted. Because they have no idea of the early linguisticness of our ancestors either. And – in my eyes! – no good idea of the origin of human linguisticness.
Your evidence, please!
OK. You know Koobi Fora?
Koobi Fora? Isn’t that the archaeological site where the oldest Homo erectus fossil has been found? In Africa?
Ah!! You know a lot! That’s nice! Koobi Fora indeed, a Homo erectus site of 1.6 mya. In Kenya.
In the 1970s and later the palaeontologists over there found also ‘lenses’ of discoloured earth. In the 1980’s one of them, Jack Harris, had given an eye to the traces of the overnight campfires of the local tribes people – at night it gets down to zero over there, you need a fire so as not to freeze – , and he discovered that this fires left exactly the same lens-shaped burnt patches in the bottom! The dating of the half-metre ‘lenses’ of baked orange earth from the site – they had found ten of them, in total – was also 1.6 mya! For Harris the case was clear: Homo erectus already used campfires!
A few of his fellow researchers were convinced, but for others it was a bridge to far. Controlling fire seemed too intellectually sophisticated for this creatures with a “fifteen minutes culture”, like the most accepted opinion was. The colleagues raised many other possibilities: bushfire, lightening strikes, puddle iron deposits, a weird fungus, and more of this objections.
Harris let it go. In the 1980’s and 1990’s the consensus was that the erectuses were mute dunces. Not until the Anatomical Modern Humans around 40.000 ya humans had the intelligence for such sophisticated behaviour, was the consensus.
But in the late 1990s Ralph Rowlett, Columbia University of Missouri, and some other researchers, started detailed analyses of the Koobi Fora ‘lenses’, and did also research on the traces of bushfire, lightening strikes, and all other objections, one by one. The result was: no trace was similar with ‘fire lenses’. Only campfire ‘lenses’ were similar with the ‘lenses’ at Koobi Fora! Rowlett summarised his findings at a conference in October 2001.
Even so not all scientists were convinced! But in April 2002 the analysis of 40.000 flint artefacts and debris was published. Many tools from after 1.6 mya showed the signs of being exposed to intense heat! Now the objections kept silence. But full acceptance still runs up against the poor insight of what names for the things does with an animal.
Other, and even older, sites with evidence of use of fire are Swartkrans and Chesowanja.
Apart from this: the use of fire, with its benefits such as cooking of otherwise inedible plants and preserving meat, is the only natural elucidation of the sudden taller statures, the quick transgression from ape proportions to Homo erectus, I would think.
So. When I stake the start of the development of names for the things, together with the full adaptation of our ancestor animals to the savannah environment, on 6 mya – and the use of fire on 2 mya, then our ancestors had four millions (!) of years to make their casual habit of naming the things to a sufficient amount of linguisticness …
… that around this time the first woman – perhaps a granny – had the courage to grab a smouldering branch of an extinguishing natural savannah fire and to drag it to a safe place. I hear the other group members scream for fear. But grandma knows what she does. With trembling hands she ‘feeds’ the smouldering branch with dry material et voilá! the first fire. And she roasts a kind of potato on it, to feed her grandchild.
Hey! You make as if you saw it going on yourself!
OK. You make your own story of this. But the Koobi For a, Swartkrans and Chesowanja campfires are hard evidence and so are the tall figures of the erectuses (HE’s).
And why a woman again?
Because the women care for the children and always are alert on the best food for their children. Our early ancestors knew, like most of the savannah animals, the attractive qualities of the natural fires. All carrion eaters approach an extinguishing savannah fire because of the roasted carcasses. Otherwise inedible roots are edible after being exposed to the fire. Even the shy antelopes approach, to lick the salty ash.
But only an animal with a feeling of control by having a name for it ventured, in the end, to control the terrifying fire.
This must have been a real mile stone!
It was indeed. Their linguistic communication and the stack-up of intelligences made a jump.
Because of the fire?
Yes. Listen. Till this momentum our ancestors were (bipedal and gesturing) apes who made every evening their individual nests in the trees. They could cry some “Sleep well!” to each other, but gestured communication in the dark is not that visible. From now, however, they could stay and pass the night on the ground, with a campfire against the predators. The women and children needed to gather enough wood for the fire, on their daily gathering trips (The men still had to concentrate on the safety of the group). But four million (!) of years of growing linguisticness and skills sufficed to enable them for this behaviour, I may think.
Now they could stay long evenings around the campfire and communicate in the light of the fire. Sign language is communicating with your whole body, it is body language. Some women reflected on an incident during their gathering trip by imitating the incident, in dance-like performances, with use of their voices in a song-like manner. Some men did carrion capturing-performances too. Each group member expressed his feelings, till everybody slept, under a skin (gathered animal skins were their only wealth, for sleeping in it overnight and for carrying things by day). Only their ears were awake all night. And the fire.
Still as a kind of bipedal apes?
In the beginning, yes. That grandma was still a bipedal ape. But with the fire they got a much more extensive and nourishing menu. After generations they grew taller and taller.
They grew to Homo erectuses! And got better brains! So: more intelligence!
As apes they were already clever enough. And brains are not a cause but a result of behaviour! Not your muscles make you a bodybuilder, it is training and training that give you the muscles of a bodybuilder. Forget brains. Forget intelligence. Think in circumstances.
With the invention of the campfires they could spread to cooler environments (Eurasia), and grow from pure carrion eaters to casual hunters. The spreading started before they were full grown erectuses (HE’s).
Here you see how scientists imagine an HE.
But I have some critical remarks
a. a man again! and the women were the most important gender!
b. only 1 stone in his left hand! instead of a bag with stones on his neck
c. two spears? is good: one for throwing and one for self defence; but here they show like poor sticks
1.8 mya we find their fossils and artefacts in Middle-Europe (Dmanisi), and 1.6 mya in the far East, but still as short and apelike people. The first HE-fossils from people like the image here date from 1.6 mya.
With the spreading over the old world we arrive at the point of the religion now.
Ah! religion! That little people around the campfire. They had already a religion?
Not yet. Religion is a feeling, you know. A feeling becomes part of your inherited behaviour after thousands of generations of practice. This practice was beginning on this moment. Listen.
Still more names for still more things. Thousands of names for thousands of things. That grows to a chaos in your head
when you don’t bring some structure in it.
A kind of an A till Z structure!
Yes indeed. The structure of a story. The story of how things began and evolved till now.
When a group grew to numerous (more then fifty members or so), then rose tensions and a number of young women, children and men decided to go for a new homeland. Not too far away: they needed each other for emergencies. Let us say: a ten day’s journey far.
They were linguistic creatures. This means: they experienced their environment (world) as a named world, a world of named things. Having a name of a mountain or a pond or a swamp, they ‘owned’ these places as a part of their world.
Because it was still a quit new attainment for an animal, they had to repeat it constantly. When they came to a consensus, they repeated it over and over. We still see this in discussions of primitive tribes as the Koi San. We see this also at two farmers according about the sale of a cow. I see it in the acceptation of the word ‘religion´ in my (Dutch) Etymological Dictionary: from re legere : gather again; pass through again; consider repeatedly.
They couldn’t move through their territory without gestured imitations of each particular place. Things without a name for it, didn’t exist, and for or us-today they still don’t. Things exist for us only when we have a name for it. Much philosophers and writers like Plato and Kant and Heidegger and Proust and Musil and Wittgenstein have broken their minds about this phenomenon. Here they get the solution!
Go on with the story, please, philosopher!
OK. The new ‘colonisers’ set foot on a world where the things didn’t have a name yet. Of course the linguistic colonisers ‘knew’ the things and they could name the things or make new names.
For their descendants this first group of women, children and men were the namers of all things in the new ‘world’ of the tribe. The ‘creators’ of their ‘world’.
For linguistic creatures naming a thing is to call it in existence. And because of an old human habit: to contract a whole group to one ‘person’ (‘the American’, ‘the European’ etc.), the first colonizing ancestral group became for the descendants The Great Ancestor.
Here we meet the proto-God, isn’t it?
Yes, we can say so.
But … before the real God, people had a multitude of gods, isn’t it? We were polytheists!
Ah, but now you speak about the time of the kingdoms and empires. But that is a ‘recent’ social situation. Each tribe had his own Great Ancestor figure, so the conglomerations of tribes like the kingdoms knew as much gods as they knew subjected tribes. Your ‘real God’, the Only True God, dates, in His first Jewish version, from 622 bC.
Ah! You have a date for Him! That’s new!
I have a date for Him, indeed. But He comes later in our story, much, much later.
And the Relegion?
Okay. Back to the evenings before sleeping around the campfire. The ‘singing’/’dancing’ self reflection of the women – with their baby’s hanging on their back in a sack, and the kids swirling around the women. And of the men. Two separated ‘worlds’, I suppose: the gathering women’s world and the hunting men’s world. This separated worlds communicated with each other in the evenings around the campfire. So there was a moment that a boy had to leave the women’s world and to tread into the men’s world … a kind of initiation …
OK. Daily accidents generated stuff for a performance. But also wider ‘philosophy’, like the beginning of their clan and of the animals and plants in their ‘world’. To handle the chaos of things in their minds, they ‘hanged’ them together in a story of the ‘creation’ of all things by the Great Ancestor, the ‘creator’ of their world.
You are an artist, you know. You make a creation of our past yourself! Where is the hard evidence?
Hard evidence? … For me the fact that there is no primitive tribe without (traces of) their creation story, is hard evidence enough. In every book about primitive cultures I find ‘hard evidence’. And I have read only a fraction of all relevant books. In the purest form I find them in the creation stories of the Aboriginals of Australia, described in the books of anthropologist Ad Borsboom, of the University of Nijmegen – who knows nothing about the origin of our religious feelings, nor of the proto-God he describes himself! But his The clan of the Wild Honey (1996) belongs to my most important sources. Thanks, Ad!
Our ancestors had a strong feeling that, by singing/dancing the Creation Story of their world, they created the world in their minds. The world would come to an end when they would stop dancing/singing him.
For linguistic creatures this is a kind of reality!
Yes indeed! Thousands of generations of experiencing the world and togetherness in dancing/singing the Creation Story becomes a part of the genome. We are born with this deep rooted desire. When baby cries, mama takes baby up and makes dancing movements and sings little songs – and baby stops crying and listens alert: it knows this from somewhere! When the papa’s drink together, they like to sing songs to enhance their feeling of togetherness. Singing the national hymn it feels like creating our nation. Pop music generated since the sixties a feeling of transnational togetherness.
All this is the innate religious feeling and we experience it even when we never see a church from the inside. As a kind of deep rooted desire. Hard evidence? For me we are, as old Western people, still wandering archives of our past. Another beer?
Cheers! I like this painting here. Two old cattle dealers, isn’t it? Clap!-clap! on each others hand, in agreeing a price ..
OK. This was the religious feeling. Where did we stop in our human history? With Homo erectus.
You mentioned already Aboriginals. Aboriginals are …
Let we go back to the Homo erectuses (HE’s), the people around their campfires and with that famous hand axes and javelins of taxus wood.
Have you some hard evidence of that dancing/singing?
Not from the HE’s from 1.6 mya around their campfires. But from their next descendants, the so-called Middle-Stone-Age-people (MSA’s) in Europe, we have! In Bilzingsleben (between Hannover and Leipzig) and not far from Schöningen …
Schöningen! That’s where the oldest spears are found!
Yes! You are really good, my friend! 50 kilometres from that brown coal pit where the 400.000 years old wooden spears are found, lays Bilzingsleben, with a travertine quarry where since 1969 archaeologists are allowed to do their inquiries. They found a MSA hunting camp: traces of round huts (frames from branches, presumably roofed with skins) around a smoothed (with plaster!) dancing place of 9 m in section (nobody can imagine another destine for this levelled round place!).
Reinsdorf-people. The same MSA-culture as ‘Schöningen’, during the Reinsdorf interglacial.
Hand axes, huh? Why more than a million years of hand axes, when they are so cute linguistic people, huh?
This is not difficult to understand when you keep in mind that they were from origin normal animals. Normal animals that came to live abnormal! In a named world! That’s what I want you realize first: we are ‘worrying apes’! Listen. Animals are an intrinsic part of the natural world, and when the conditions where their instincts are built for, keep the same: they feel secure. But the HE’s, linguistic creatures, switched over on taking counsel together for coordinated behaviour. Which resulted in the use of fire, for instance. But to achieve this, they had to set their instincts apart! Because you can’t have two captains on the ship of your thoughts!
This has a psychological effect. The effect of loosing their instinct security. On behalf of the understanding and knowing of the things. The effect was: feeling existentially insecure! Because real understanding of the things was still very poor.
We became worrying apes. The only ‘worrying’ kind of animals in nature. And we still are. Since we have scientific knowledge, in the Western world, we live a bit less frightened, but …
… So we did better to remain normal animals!
In the beginning? Sure! But now, in our times, we are better off as humans. It’s a hard life as an animal in the wild, you know.
But insecurity is paralysing. You cannot live in permanent insecurity, can you? How did our ancestors allay their insecurity then? By repetition and belief!
By repetition and belief. Listen.
1. repetition: repetitive movements and sounds, dancing/singing, rhythm. But also: doing things as they always did, as the ancestors did. Tradition, usage, customs, rituals. Our early ancestors were unbelievable conservative. Doing things like the ancestors did, that was the only good doing. Here you have the answer of your question about the unchanged design of the hand axe in more than a million years.
2. belief: that things are like you want they are. Or that they are like somebody with authority says they are. Belief in magic, in ‘powerful’ actions or formulas, in exorcizing, spelling and charming.
The oldest form of belief is anthropomorphism: the belief that other animals, birds, reptiles, plants, trees, even places, were a kind of beings like themselves. Only: other life forms couldn’t answer when humans sign to them. But all that other life forms and even things like volcano’s and thunder could feel and think like humans (in old-Greek: ‘anthropos’, and ‘morphe’ is form, representation).
So I suppose it took a long time before the HE’s could kill other big animals. As far as big prey like elephants and buffalos concerns I assume they were carrion eaters like the hyena’s. They only ate big animals killed by predators like the sabre toothed tigers. And they were cannibalists.
Yes, cannibalists. And they would remain cannibalists till in recent times. Because they ate their dear deceased. Otherwise the detested concurrent-carrion eaters, the hyenas, would eat them! Besides this: as carrion eaters they were, like most other animals, constantly on the edge of starving. So cannibalism was a natural means of recycling.
Listen. In all periods of mankind there are more forward populations and more backward populations. The ‘modern’ descendants of the ancient people were for’s : they had better means of support and did no longer need cannibalism. Always for’s feel themselves better and superior and push the back’s aside. We Westerns still do with Muslims. Earlier feeling superior was mostly expressed in the cursing of cannibalism. The Yanomamö talk about other tribes as cannibalists, and the Western colonisers saw the conquered aboriginals as cannibalists. But even the Yanomamö eat some ash of the dear deceased mixed in plantain porridge, to enable the dear deceased to survive in their offspring, and they cannot understand the Western people who put their dear deceased in the ground!
Even the Christians eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus Christ in blessed memory of Him.
So old beliefs have a long life!
We are wandering archives! Another old belief is the soul and most of even the Westerns still believe in it. In the mind of our ancestors it was a little ‘nearly invisible’ spirit that could fly in a woman when she passed by a certain place. Then it started a new life in her belly. And when somebody died, his soul returned to that place. Humans, animals and the like had a soul. You know of the Egyptian pyramids? There is a little hole in it. For the soul of the pharaoh, that he can go out each night and travel wit the Sun god in His boat through the underworld and to rise with Him in the morning. But all their objects they provided with a little hole: for the soul of the object.
Most primitive hunter/gatherers believe that a human has several souls in his chest. The Yanomamö know seven different kinds of souls for every adult man.
Another old belief is totemism. The MSA’s believed they were animals, and descendants of animals.
Fits! They started as apes, isn’t it?
Yes indeed. Their Great Ancestor was never a man, nor a woman …
Fits! it was a group. That’s what you told.
Indeed. The Great Ancestor was half an animal half a human. He could travel through the air and undergrounds, and so He did, in the Dream Time, creating ‘the world’ (their clan homeland). But I don’t think the MSA-belief was already a full-grown totemism. I doubt if their latest descendants, the Neanderthals (NT-s) were already full-grown totemists.
But my point about the hand axes is: our ancestors, being ‘worrying apes’, were thoroughly conservative. Doing things like the ancestors did! Not the smallest deviation was dared or allowed. Changing and improving? Not done! Another factor archaeologists overlook is that in the ancient societies the women were the dominant gender. And for women, things that work don’t need changed.
We now live in a time of male dominance and permanent changing and improving. For us one million years long the same hand axe is unbelievable. But for our ancestors our leaning towards change would be unbelievable.
Three months ago I visited a NT-archaeological site. Traces of NT-camps from two periods, with an interval of some 100.000 years. My companion Ruud asked if there was any difference or improving in the artefacts? No! In all that 100.000 years not any difference or improving!
That’s what I meant to tell you. But: hard evidence!
For me an extra indication of the dominant position of the women in HE’s, MSA’s and NT’s, as I said.
What do you mean? Are women conservative?
As long as something works, is there no reason for changing or improving. In my life with women this female position always struck me. Women have other priorities than men. The future of the children, e.g. Humans are wandering archives.
Dancing/singing the creation story of the animal world: on that dancing place in Bilzingsleben I always imagine dancing women. Religion was always a women’s sake in the first place. Women are still more religious than men. Women first start dancing when music sounds up in the street. On New Age- photos you see mostly women.
It is the monotheism that pushed the women out of all places of power, and so out of God worship.
Aah!! Now monotheism in the end!
Oh no. We have still a long-long way to go till we arrive at the One and Only True God. We haven’t meet even gods! Where we are now in our origin story?
At the Reinsdorf people, dancing/singing on their dancing place! We are descendants of the MSA’s and the NT’s, aren’t we?
Of MSA’s: yes. But of NT’s: no. Listen. We are descendants of a MSA-population in Africa some 150.000 ya. (However, the discussion about the possibility that in the Far-East ‘modern’ humans descended from Far-East-MSA’s is still undecided.) The most conspicuous difference between MSA’s (and NT’s) and Anatomic-Modern Humans (AMH’s) is: the first communicate with sign language (with supporting voice sounds) and the latest communicate with their voices (with supporting gestures).
There has always been some pressure to engage the voice in the communication. You can express the most philosophical and sensitive things with sign language (perhaps better, because with sign language you communicate with full facial and body expression). But it is difficult communicating with your hands full, or in the dark, or around the corner.
How to communicate in sign language when you and your mate manoeuvre a cupboard through a narrow staircase?!
! So from the beginning they used click!s and tskk!s and mm!s in their communication. The pressure to engage the voice as meaningful as possible was there from the beginning.
How to bring the voice under control of the neocortex, the brain region of the (sign) language? I think that dancing/singing the creation story fostered this controlling power of the neocortex.
Think: they danced/sang with their whole body’s, their total physical and mental personalities. And the whole spiritual life of every MSA- individual and of the whole community life was concentrated around dancing/singing the creation story! To preserve their linguistic world.
OK. But why then this African MSA’s as the ancestors of all AMH’s?
Good question! Listen. People in cold regions are short and massive: better for keeping body warmth. Inuit have this stocky figure, and NT’s had.
People in hot climates are long and slender: better for loosing body warmth. That most complete HE-skeleton found in Koobi Fora, that is long and slender. Koobi Fora lies in Kenya and it is bloody hot over there. The skeleton is from a 12 year old boy …
‘Nariokotome-boy’, isn’t it? I saw it on Discovery …
‘Nariokotome boy’, indeed. Long and slender. ‘Nilotic’ is the circumscription of such a stature. Well, our African MSA-ancestors had a ‘nilotic’ stature. So a longer neck also. Now comes the clue. To make vowels you need a deep throat …
… I mean a long pharynx. So a long neck. The ‘nilotic’ MSA’s were in the best physical position to get the facility for communicating with voice: for talking.
What – do you think now – made these talking descendants of the African MSA’s develop to the AMH’s, the superhumans of the world?
In a certain sense. The AMH’s displaced all MSA’s all over Africa and Eurasia! The human world of that days. All humans today are AMH’s! There is no MSA-descendant found in whole today’s world.
What made them superhumans? No idea!
I have a funny idea, but perhaps it makes sense. Listen. With sign language you communicate with your whole body and full facial expression. So you cannot lie. But talking … you can lie! With a poker face and your hands in your pockets! I don’t say AMH’s deceived each other every moment, but a fact is that they could, and that all other humans in their world could not.
This facility made them a little more independent, less bound to that strong traditions. Made them a little bit less conservative.
The AMH’s namely started with the use of other materials than only stone, for making artefacts. They made harpoons of bone and ivory. They could spear fish, dolphins and other sea prey. They tapped a new and rich source of food: the sea. Using inflated skins they made primitive vessels. With inflated bladders on the ropes of their harpoons they could hunt big sea prey…
Eh, no. But, you see, that harpoons! And I know from a stone age Arctic population, called Sadlermiut, who sailed with a vessel, existing of three inflated seal skins and a paddle of whale bone. But OK, forget the sea prey. (Till there turns up a sea prey fossil!).
A fact is their groups enlarged and expanded and spread, first over Africa and 60.000 ya over the Middle-East, to the Far East and Middle Europe and 40.000 ya we find their first fossils in France.
The Cromagnon Man!
Ah, you are good! But think … in the homeland of the NT’s! The sensitive NT’s were admittedly much stronger than the slender AMH’s, but they had no resistance against the coarseness of this noisy insensitive ‘aliens’, with that high-stretched foreheads and that projecting chins. No defence also against the spear throwers, with which AMH’s could kill you from a long distance. And the AMH’s were much more numerous.
So: better migrate to places where this creatures never came. Far places, unattractive places. But far from other NT-groups also: in the end no longer chance for the annual visits and interchanging partners. Around 30.000 ya the NT’s died out and the AMH’s lived everywhere.
overpopulation and machism
OK. But why this AMH’s were so coarse and insensitive, in comparison with the NT’s?
The same reason as why chimpanzees are more coarse and insensitive in comparison with the bonobo’s. Now we arrive to the next mile stone after the invention of the fire: overpopulation.
Overpopulation? A mile stone?
Yes. After the invention of the fire our ancestors became hunters/gatherers, and they remained so and nothing changed essentially in their behaviour. The women were the dominant gender and singing/dancing the creation story was the zenith of their world. When we set the use of fire as the start of the genus homo, so when we set the beginning of humans on 2 millions of years ago, then you can say that we 99% of our existence we have lived as HG’s (hunter/gatherers).
So that is our human nature: we are in essence HG’s. Noble wilds.
HG’s noble wilds? You have a romantic view on our ancestors, i suppose. And on our human nature also! You are a new Rousseau!
Oh no! The Romanticism was a regressive movement. I’m progressive. All anthropologists of hunter/gatherers say this people are happy and healthy, with well babies. It was the book of Hugh Brody The Other Side of Eden that brought me this insight. Our human nature is HG. That’s why people are searching after the lost happiness. We are still HG’s from the inside of us.
OK HG’s we are.
But overpopulation will make all things change. Listen.
You mentioned this in relation to bonobos. But bonobos, that’s a kind of chimpanzee, isn’t it?
Bonobos are a kind of chimpanzee, but living in Congo, a region that never changed in ten thousand years. A kind only changes when the environment changes. So the bonobos never changed. They are like they were 10.000 years ago, when our ancestors still lived like normal animals in the rain forest. Frans de Waal says: when you want an image of our earliest ancestors: look at the bonobos!
The physiologist Jared Diamond names us “the third chimpanzee”!
Ah! You read that book? Very good! The insight of Frans de Waal that we are a kind of bonobos is rather new and new insights take some time to become common coin. The chimpanzees are a kind of bonobo’s too. But the chimpanzees changed a bit because their environment changed a bit. The environment of our ancestors changed totally, so our ancestors changed totally.
The region of the bonobo’s is still the same as 10.000 ya. The regions of the chimpanzees shrunk and expanded several times in the ice ages. That’s not an essential change so the chimpanzees didn’t change essentially. But … it brought the chimps in the situation of overpopulation, in every shrinking period.
Overpopulation: too much groups in a shrinking territory. That means warfare: struggle for survival. The groups with the most and most violent men survive. So being violent is a good quality in such a situation. The opposite quality of being nice. Being nice is good for group harmony, so good for surviving in normal circumstances. For maintaining the requested harmony in their groups the chimps developed politics! Chimpanzees became political animals. Also a new insight of Frans de Waal. He wrote it in his book Chimpanzee politics (1982).
In comparison with the nice bonobo’s the chimpanzees are coarse and grim, and you see it on the faces of both kinds. Warfare makes men important and dominant. So the chimpanzees are machists. In bonobo’s the women are dominant. Their territory is wide and rich enough for everybody, so no war is needed. Conflicts are mitigated with sex. Make love – not war: the bonobo’s are named the ‘hippies of the rain forest’. Frans de Waal wrote this in his book Bonobo (1997). Diamond’s book The Third Chimpanzee is from 1992, you see.
Like the bonobo’s our early ancestors never experienced any overpopulation situation: the world for the HE’s, the MSA’s and the NT’s was still endless. Wide and rich enough for everybody, so no war was needed and the women stayed to be the dominant gender. The NT’s were still nice people, ‘noble wilds’.
The AMH’s were the first humans who have been confronted with overpopulation. In a light form however, because they could migrate to Eurasia. But I think AMH’s knew male dominance already. Why I think so? Because all, even the most primitive, AMH-hunting/gathering groups in the whole world, even in the America’s, now know some male dominance.
Some male dominance. Not ‘machism’?
No, only some hunting/gathering/horticulture groups like the Yanomamö and the Mountain Papua live in a situation of overpopulation and are machists.
Were the Cromagnon people machists?
I suppose not. In their cave paintings you see a men’s world indeed: hunting animals, or totemistic ‘ancestors’, but not war. (The caves were not for habitation, it were inaccessible ‘holy’ places for boys-initiation rituals).
In later wall engravings and paintings we see war. During the last ice age, the men in the winter homes invented bows and arrows and domesticated the wolf for hunting companionship. After the warming-up 14.000 ya (12.000 BC!) they started to use this new hunting tool. This improved the hunting technology enormously. It caused enlarging and expanding of the AHM-groups … and the extinction of al big prey between 12.000 and 11.000 ya!
So: too much groups in limited territory. Overpopulation, warfare, struggle for surviving. And then this war-engravings begin to show up.
But why and how all this lead to machism?
That’s what I just wanted to tell you. The groups with the most violent men had the best chances for surviving. So for the women male violence became a ‘good’ quality, and they stimulated this quality in their men and sons. The men, always having played the second fiddle, now all at once realized they were very important! Men rituals were much more important than that stupid female rituals! They started secret men’s clubs and initiating rituals, developed enmity against women (old ‘childish’ frustration because the discrepancy between 15% more male physical force and nevertheless female dominance), complotted against the women and committed a coup d’état. Revolution. Male dominance. Machism.
Most AMH groups in Europe got engaged in warfare. But the women started with the culture of their most important food plants. The beginning of agriculture. So from this moment on we became AGR’s (agrarians). AGR’s are no longer ‘noble wilds’ like they as HG’s ever were. As AGR’s they became ‘fierce people’, like the Yanomamö of Napoleon Chagnon (book The fierce people, 1983). Once more: see the warfare wall-engravings since.
Would we be the better for staying HG’s?
Oh yeah! But our ancestors little to choose. And they had no idea.
Would we be the better for staying the women the dominant gender?
Difficult to say. Men are useful people, and women know that. They never suppressed their men in all the past. Men did what the (council of the) women said. But a feminist (!) philosopher said: “When women had been concerned we lived still in caves!” As long as something works, there is no reason for changing or improving. The women halt the number of the births in balance. Birth was women’s business.
Women think more cyclic. In seasons. In ‘circle of life’. Women have other priorities than men. The future of the children.
Men think straight-forward and childish: here and now. As a gender, men have little with durableness. Children is women’s work and responsibility, isn’t it?
Women go for durableness, for long term. There is no evidence of dying out food-plants by gathering women.
Men go for short term goals. The hunting men caused the dying out of prey on all times and places of human hunting in the world. Men cannot handle power. And they feel that. Deep in their minds they feel insecure. So they have to howl that inner voice down. ‘Worrying apes’. To feel themselves secure, they need the feeling of superiority, of being supermen. To express this superiority they need to call other people inferior, cannibalists. To struggle themselves on top they have to trample the women down. That’s machism.
But men, as the straight-forward thinking gender, brought progression! Warfare brings technological progress! Perhaps the atomic bomb will save mankind from an meteor!
So again: would we be better now for staying the women the dominant gender?
It is an if-if-question. As long as humans were HG’s, ‘noble wilds’, I think humans were normally happy. Today’s hunter/gatherer people like the Koi/San, even pushed aside by agricultural populations into the most useless and harshest regions of the world, believe they live in the best of all worlds – and they live indeed! In atrocious periods of dryness neighbour agriculturalists starve, but the hunting/gathering groups still find water and food enough and stay healthy. If we could have been in that stage, I’m sure we would be the better.
But overpopulation is like ice ages: violence of nature itself. Humankind of the past had no governments who could guide things in smooth ways. There was no other choice for surviving than war; the women felt this sharp enough and made their men violent.
Things happen, and still do. The free market is nobody’s invention and nobody has power over it. “Anything goes”, like philosopher Paul Feyerabend said. Only when we have a world government, perhaps, mankind has power over our economy. Democracy is a good start …
Now we are in a deep philosophical discussion. So I need another beer! My wife drives!
Oh, sorry, of course! …….. Cheers!
Let’s go on now, I want to meet monotheism before my wife rings me up.
OK. The mile stone of the overpopulation. War and machism. But the women started also other ways to handle the shortage of food. In their durable dealing with the places where nutritious tubers and the like could be found, they never took all the plants. And since their gathering territory was limited, they began to tend these places and found out how they could increase the output, by bringing water in dry season, helping the nice plants by removing ‘hostile’ plants, signing and talking sweet words to the dear plants and singing for them to encourage them. Giving young plants an private nice place so that they didn’t need to compete with each other. Asking the men to cut a tree whose crown threw to much shadow on a tended place…
Ah! The beginning of the slash and burn horticulture!
You are good! And also the beginning of the gratitude to the earth, who ‘gave the plants out of her belly’, like a mother…
! Other means of generating food brings other manners of magically influencing the process. Especially in places where corn could be gathered. The women reaped carefully all the precious grains, which could help them through the long hungry season. But never without choosing a handful of the nicest grains and returning them to the generous Mother Earth. And see: Mother Earth rewarded them with still more nicest grains next year. So the women talked to Mother Earth and danced/sang her seasonal beneficence.
The women still more began to keep an eye on this precious places, and build their huts in time near the field, to prevent women of other groups to reap the grains. And to prevent goats and sheep to eat the young plants and to scare or to shoot with slings the birds that would eat the ripping grains. The more precious the fields, the more the huts got the character of a settlement. This happened in the Middle-East, but also in the Far-East (rice) and later in Middle-America (maize). The women made fences of thorny branches to keep the sheep away. But you can also make fences to catch and hold the sheep within!
When you feed them with grass and hay, you have a stock for meat in the winters! The beginning of cattle-breeding! Also a women’s work?
Of women, and older men, I suppose. The adult men stayed hunting. It started with goats and sheep and pigs and the like. Much later the aurochs: men’s work.
The temporary huts became loam huts, with furnaces to bake bread. Later also other furnaces to bake pottery, to store the grain. And to bake the figurines of Mother Earth.
Women’s and older men’s work indeed. Where the yield of hunting lessened and the yield of the farming grew in importance …
… the men got to be farmers!
I think so. I’m very sure the invention of the plough was a male invention.
But the growing importance of the farming heightened the status of the women. Also the importance of the female rituals for the Great Mother Goddess and other goddesses for fertility and good harvests. Also the power of the (female) shamans, and the importance of the temple of the Goddess, the place where the contribute of each family to the common food stock was stored and administrated.
No longer dancing/singing the creation story?
I think the dancing/singing of the creation story was no longer the zenith of their community life in the phase of starting agriculture. It was the cult of the Great Mother and other rain- and fertility-bringing gods.
Ah, here we meet the gods!
Yes. Other economy needs other ‘magic’ to influence the odds of nature.
The offering, started with that returning grains for Mother Earth, grew in importance, grew to the strongest ‘magic’. Not only a little part of the crop, but also of the cattle. Animal offering. And in later cruel times even human offering … But the beginning villages were peaceful, by women controlled societies.
And yes, in this time each village had his own temple with his own fertility god. And perhaps each family had some favoured gods too. But you know, I think the idea of a creating Great Ancestor god survived too, in the stories of the story-tellers!
In these societies the phenomenon of specialism showed up. Ceramists, makers of ornaments, weavers, rope makers, merchants, you name it. And I think this specialisms got from mother on daughter and father on son. Generation after generation. And so I think storytelling was a very old family specialism, deep rooted in vocal history. Otherwise I cannot explain the wonderful Middle East creation story that in the end, around 440 BP, showed up in the Jewish Bible.
You think Genesis was not a Jewish creation story?
No, it is Babylonian. But the Jewish patriarchs made a One and Only True God- version of it. But I explain you this later.
But in this Jewish creation story we still recognise the figure of the Great Ancestor! “In the beginning was the word”: humanity started with linguisticness, with names for the things. “In the beginning an empty earth”: for linguistic creatures is an un-named world empty. Adam had to give names to the animals…
Now you come to mention it … remarkable indeed !
I think that story tellers participated in a deep rooted oral history. And that the origin stories now became the specialized ‘business’ of storytellers. The poets and singers who made a living of singing the old stories.
But it’s enough speculated now, I go on. Civilisation is dawning now. We are becoming real AGR’s now.
Civilisation! That means reading and writing and so on!
That’s a part of it. I told you of the temple as a place where each family contributed a part of the crops and the cattle to the common wealth. The temple enclosed storehouses for emergencies also. Storing requires administration and administration requires noting. Noting down starts with simple engravings in the urns and quotations on tortoiseshells and slates. Stripes and symbols. The beginning of writing and calculating.
But the origin and practise of civilisation is war. And war is men’s business. Is business of warlords. So I have to talk about the headman first.
I think even in the times of female dominance the women always preferred a headman – of their own choice of course. Why for gods sake should women prefer a headman? Well. Listen.
For men its easy to settle a dispute, but women have great difficulty with it.
Why? The women were so social, you suggested!
Children have to learn to be social; they brawl sometimes and then the mothers get quarrelling. Each mother is a lioness for her child. So it’s comfortable when there is a dominant headman who comes between and orders silence.
But the motor of the ascend of the headmen has been … the feasts!
Feast have a long past. In the gathering/hunting of all ages there were good times and bad times. In the season of abundance the group couldn’t manage all the food. Storing fruit was not yet possible. So the group invited one or more neighbour groups for feasting and spending.
Good and bad times were not always synchronous for the groups, so when your region went through a crisis, you could escape starving when you could stay at your neighbours who lived in temporal abundance. So all groups lived in a network of annual feasts.
In the horticultural times each family had his own garden, a clearing in the wood, with slashing and burning of the vegetation. Hard work for the men. So each tried to keep his garden as little as possible, hoping he could get food from the others when he proved to have been too optimistic (and too lazy). So he could do this only one time.
The more grandiose the feast, the higher the status of the group and … of the chief (the higher his status the more women wanted to be his wife, and the more numerous his offspring). So he worked hard, maintained the biggest yard and exhorted his fellows to work hard. Each morning the chief got up first and called up the other men and talked the tasks of the village over. The scoutmaster-chief.
But between villages easy hostility can rise. An unexpected death? Bad magic of the shaman of the neighbours! Had to be revenged! The chief was also leader of the fighting men. A successful raid provoked revenge of course. In a region with too much villages warfare became a permanent plague, and all villages were walled in palisade. In permanent war the social behaviour deteriorates, violence is ‘good’, the men become machists. The same old song.
It were no longer the women who choosed the headmen. How became a young man headman now?
By organizing the most grandiose feast! The feast with the most products of the fields and cattle breeding. When an ambitious young men felt he could challenge the sitting headman, he started with hard working and consuming as little as possible. When his friends saw he was resolute, they and his family started to help him, with hard work and little consume, hoping they would rise with his rising star. When the date of confrontation approached, they helped him building the feast hall. Then all the feast products were counted painstakingly, and when the old headman couldn’t organize a bigger feast, the village had a new headman!
And war leader. The raids became more and more forays. Or trade expeditions, when the ‘enemy’ was too strong. The more loaded with loot and women the raiders returned in the club house, the mightier the chief, and the louder celebrated his heroic deeds in songs.
But when all the booty and plunder was consumed and the robbed women had breathed her last, the henchmen began to grumble and the chief had to organize a new foray. Or he allowed his son to do it.
In times of agriculture, woods and gardens had gave way to irrigated fields. Little villages were grown out to towns. Much more people. Trade. Trade ways between towns. The hostility now rose mostly from concurrence about water management and trade routes. The raids were campaigns, the chiefs kings.
The chiefs were no longer hard working farmers, and they no longer gave all the loot to their henchmen. The chief kept still more women for himself, as slaves in his palace, and for work on his fields. Slaves. First property of the families of the chiefs and his henchmen, later personal. In humanity private property set in. Even the cruelties rose. This is the situation that we became AGR’s from HG’s .
The chiefs evolved to warlords or kings, the henchmen nobles. How? What was the motor?
The most forgotten figure in this evolution is the panegyrist. The most eloquent singer under the henchmen. He celebrated the deeds of the warriors and denigrated the slain. Described the enemies as inferior non-humans, against whom every cruelty was heroism. He was the ideologist of these vocal times. The origin of the phenomenon of ideology is in the songs of the panegyrists. I think without panegyrists there would have been no been kings.
…I’m impressed! I always believed humans were social creatures and couldn’t understand why they can be so cruel, like beasts.
A cat can be cruel against a living mouse, isn’t it?! But OK, that is perhaps functional cruelty, a kind of training!
In a war cruelty can be functional too. You can terrorize the enemy with cruelty: So you can frighten the enemy and save energy. I remember the inscription on a pillar of honour to Assurbannipal II of Assyria:
I ordered to flay all the commanders and to ornate the gate doors of the town with their skins … some of them I ordered to be marooned in the wall, others I let pole … again others I let cut off arms and legs. Much of the prisoners I let burn … I let cut their hands or fingers, or their noses and ears … many of them I let cut out their eyes … Their boys and girls I let been burn …
I see this as a warning for his enemies.
This is civilisation! …
You know what civilisation is, in essence?
Humans always lived in tribes. Each tribe had his own gods and language and culture.
With the conquests of the warlords and kings like Assurbannipal II still more tribes came under the rule of one kingdom or empire. These tribes had to forget their own ancestral gods and culture and even language and to ‘naturalize’ in the culture and language of the empire. That is civilisation.
Humans always lived in their own tribe and couldn’t see people of other tribes as humans. Other people couldn’t even speak! Humans? Only they themselves were humans! What means Innu ? Or Yanomamö ? Means ‘human’. Other people were food concurrents! Xenophobia is a deep rooted feeling.
You can read in the story of the ‘Tower of Babylon’. Kings let build huge temples and palaces for themselves from the yield of their conquests and the slaves from much tribes had to work together on this buildings. They couldn’t understand the commands of the supervisors, nor each other! The story of the Tower of Babylon is a typical AGR-story. And so are the Books of the Bible.
Empires need a developed administration, so developed writing and calculation, so schools and science and architecture and so on and we are used to see these things as civilisation. But in essence it is the enforced acculturation of tribes people.
Aah! Sorry, my GSM! … My wife! She ‘s ready in a minute. I’ve to go. Thanks for the beer! A pity that I still don’t know about the monotheism!
Oh, wait! I can tell you in a minute now! She will tap on the window, isn’t it? And you didn’t finish your beer yet. Listen.
Long times the kings ruled by incorporating the gods of the conquered tribes in the belief of the empire. Polytheism. But that was difficult ruling, because each tribe beheld the belief of his own gods and so his special identity. For easy ruling the whole population has to identify himself with the common belief of the empire. In Egypt Akhenaten was the first king who experimented with One and Only True God. But after his death the High priests of the old shrines succeeded in restoring their position of power.
But the political/economic tide was against polytheism. Trade and economic development can nothing with tribal fragmentation, with all that warlords and tolls and warfare disorder, with robber bands fighting in name of their private gods.
Trade and economic development need vast and extend markets with safety of transportation and goods. In that believing times this could only be realized with a common belief, in a One and Only True God. The High priests of the Temple of Jerusalem were the first, around 650 BP, to upgrade their Yahweh to a One and Only God and to write the oral history of the Jews in an adapted form. Perhaps I can tell you this story of the birth of the One and Only God another time in more detail.
Promised!. But the Genesis story?
The priest couldn’t use one of the traditional creation stories, if any, of one of their tribes that they had to unify. So they used the creation story of the Babylonia story singers, during or after their exile. Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch, but the last written!
The Jews were the first worshippers of the One and Only God. But in all great civilisations of that time ruled the same political/economic tide, the same need of trade and economic development to overcome tribal fragmentation and warfare, so the same need for a unifying Figure. The Romans did it with the common worship of the Caesar, and later, under Constantine, of the Christian God. The latest One and Only God was the creation of Mohammed: Allah. To overcome the tribal fragmentation of Arabia, on behalf of trade and economic development. With nice result: the empire of the first Caliph’s was the most splendid civilisation of that time.
So there is nothing wrong with monotheism ?!
Monotheism was an inevitable political/economic formula in deep believing times, to overcome tribal fragmentation. But today there are three things wrong with it. The first thing is that the One and Only God is so hostile against women.
Yes! Why, for gods sake, is He so hostile against women?!
That is because, in that agrarian times, the core of the religion was the charming of the fruitfulness of fields and cattle. Remember that agriculture was women’s business, so the rituals and charming, the holy places and offerings were female and the most important gods were goddesses. So for the unifying of the Jewish tribes the One and Only had to destroy all the old religions! You can read it in your Bible: II Kings 22 and 23.
Ah! That’s why He was a jealous God!
Right! The second thing is that the belief in the One and Only True God makes believers unscrupulous and heartless because it draws believers’ commitment away from his fellow-men and concentrates it upon God. It can get a nasty affect on insecure, unbalanced, frustrated individuals, who feel themselves inferior and denigrated and hopeless. These individuals can ‘see the Light!’ They can become radicalized. All of a sudden their problems are melted away, in the fire of their devotion to the One and Only God (and in the warm group of fellow-believers or in the financed environment of the monastery or the mosque)! From feeling themselves nothing they now feel themselves superior: against the non-believers! They are warriors for God! Each inhumanity and criminality becomes ‘good’ when done for God!
In the splendour of Gods Light all things, including fellow humans, are nothing. Even their own life is nothing anymore! When they die in the war for their God, they believe to be united with Him! (And Muslims, in their extra sexual frustration, believe they become endless sex!)
I said: from the beginning. The Jews had the Maccabees: warriors for God. In the whole history of monotheism there were fanatics who attacked and murdered fellow humans and complotted with ‘common’ criminals.
The third wrong thing is recent. The political/economic tide of today can nothing with the fragmentation of the market in monotheistic blocks. The market is globalizing and wants a global peace and freedom and safety. So the market wants a new, global and universal belief: in mankind. Global humanism. With a new, scientific based, Genesis story … (knock-knock!!)
Ah! That’s is my wife! Thanks for the beer! And for the Genesis story! I tell her I’ve just met a women-friendly prophet! Bye!!
No, tell her that I can make nice portraits of your grandchildren!! (business is business!) Bye!
Since the openly out broken Jihad of the Islamists against the globalizing Western civilisation many thinkers refresh their view on our own Western belief. In the times of the Crusades both camps had their One and Only God, as the ideological flag in an economical clash of civilisations. But how is this situation today? Is the jihad an economical clash anyway? Is it a clash of civilisations (a war of two civilisations against each other) anyway? The camps economically depend on each other. The Western camp doesn’t conduct an ideological war against the Islamic world. The jihad is the attack against Western ideas, persons and objects through an ideological motivated small part of the Muslim world, financing fundamentalist groups and mosques with oil and drugs money, who recruit and fanatize influencable mentally unstable individuals, supplying them with Western weapons and technology.
One can say: this is no war. There is only the Al Qayda attack against Western people and objects on one side and on the other side the war of America in Afghanistan and Iraq, being a self-defence action after 11-9 and meaning to bring democracy in this country’s.
Okay, let us say so, but in the ideology of the Islamists jihad is a war. So the Western world is in war, if you want it or not. An ideologically motivated war (from the side of the enemy at least), a war with – besides real deaths and weapons – ideas and beliefs as weapons.
Ideas and beliefs, that’s the point. The belief of the Islamists in the rule and sovereignty of their One and Only God and the establishing of the House of the Islam all over the world.
In the Middle Ages the beliefs, weapons and economical goals were equal and so the victories interchanged. How is this situation today? Economical goals, weapons and beliefs are totally different. What about the victory? For Samuel Huntington it’s clear: the victory will be on the Muslims side. Because they overnumber us widely and outclass us widely with a much stronger believe in their God.
Huntington oversees the economic goal and the military force, but in the ideological motivation he’s right. Our God is our weak point. So many thinkers rethink our Western belief.
Have we to give our old One and Only God a rub up? People who turn over this in their minds, have to bear in this too the economical drive of the world. The economic reality today is the free market, with television and internet as a motor.
The economic drive that activated the old world to overcome tribalism and led to monotheism, is today driving the modern world to universalism. The jihad, and also the evangelical movement in the USA, is – it is my strong opinion and hopefully I’m not too optimistic! – a rearguard action of a faction in the monotheist world, a struggle against death from drowning in the worldwide high tide of the free market, rising in the Far East.
A better idea is, to give the free world a new believe: in humankind.
Let we first take a better look to the situation in the old world and the birth of the One and Only God. Because the wisdom of the present comes from the knowledge of the past.
The One and Only God is born in the seventh century BP, in the Temple of Yahweh of Jerusalem. Before that time humanity knew only goddesses and gods. The sanctuaries in the Middle East of 700 BP were, beside the kings courts, often big businesses and undertakings, competing with each other for the most offerings of and in promoting their product under the full-religious working mass. For better understanding you can look to the Egyptian world, the leading civilisation in the Middle East of that times.
In 638 king Amon of Jerusalem, who had promoted, like his father Manasse, the offerings to the old goddesses and gods of the Jews, was murdered in a palace conspiracy. His son Josiah, eight years old and heir to the throne, was instructed by the priests of the Temple. He got inspired by the idea of restoring the old empire of David and Salomon, and to reunite the tribes of Israel under his reign. Therefore, emphasised the priests, the god of the Temple had to be the only god of all Jews. Under his reign all the money, gathered by the ‘threshold waiters’, went to the Temple. In 620 Josiah ordered by decree the destroying of all other shrines and sanctuaries in whole Juda and even Samaria. For all the offerings of the tribes of Israel was from now on only one Holy Place: the altar of Yahweh in Jerusalem.
High priest Hilkiah had rewritten the two old book rolls and ‘found’ a third, and so the history of the Jews became the tiring adventures of the Only True God with his ‘chosen people’. A jealous god, who declared all others gods and special goddesses as idols. (A new edition and extension of the Jewish Bible dates from Ezra, after the return of the True Believers from Babylon, and the oldest survived edition is written in the Diaspora.)
After Josiah’s early death the Jewish tribes and clans restored their old sanctuaries, but in the Temple survived the idea and the worship of the One and Only True God.
A political invention, in the first instance. But the belief in a Most High, in a All Creator, has a strange effect on unbalanced people. For people who are discontented and unhappy with their (or the) life, it is inviting to throw themselves in the worship of the One and Only True God and to let all the trouble behind. It is a kind of blindness: in the Light of the Most High in Heaven all earthly anxiety and persons shrink and shrivel in insignificance – at least when there is money enough for the daily bred for the believers. It makes believers blind for human responsibility, even for their relatives, even for their own life. It makes them fit for martyrdom. Many individuals can, in an unstable moment of their life, ‘see the Light’. With a little help of their (organised and facilitated) ‘friends’.
It was a new phenomenon in humankind. And it left deep traces in human history. Maccabees, zealots, Christian martyrs, Christian zealots who destroyed the University of Alexandria. The Wahabism sewed, especially after 1973 (the rising of the oil prize), a plethora of Islamism in Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Western China, East Africa and Central Asia. Taliban and Al Quayda are ‘flowers’ of this seed of zealot monotheism.
A political invention of the Temple priesthood of Jerusalem anno 650 BP. But this is one thing. The other thing is the economical drive. The try of Josiah aimed the reunifying of the Jewish tribes in one kingdom. The aim for Constantine to make the Christian belief to state religion was the same. Also was Mohammed’s aim: unifying the tribes of Arabia with his Arabic variant of especially Jewish monotheism. It was the tide of that times: making an end to tribalism. Economic (and cultural) flourishing was the salaire de la peur – as long as there was some freedom of believe and trade.
Now we live in the time of the free market, broken loose through the invention of television, in the sixties, and internet in the seventies. The time of globalizing capitalism. A totally new period in the history of mankind (not the "End" of it!). So we need another Idea than the Only True God who divides mankind in hostile confessions. Now we need a global unifying believe: in Mankind. Only with this new unifying believe we may hope to handle the capitalism, to keep the market free and to survive on our lonely planet.
For this new believe we need a new Creation Story. Because the wisdom of the present comes from the knowledge of our past.
The ultimate new universal Origin Story has to be written by a team of science writers. No, it is not written yet! The scientists overwhelm us with the results of their fieldwork, excavations, fossils and datings. But they can only deliver the building stones, not the ultimate Origin Story. Because: this is a PROJECT. A never ending PROJECT, because the sciences never stop research and investigation. Another point is: the new ultimate Origin Story can only work in saving humanity when it is officially embraced and facilitated by the governments. Because individuals are free in believing what they choose to believe. But governments have to maintain an official belief – and this has to be universal, scientific and democratic. So: a never ending PROJECT onto which each individual may contribute, in theory. Practically it is the job of the Project Team of science writers, to bring each five years an updated version of the Ultimate Origin Story. (Imagine: the whole scientific world in stress and suspense which opinion is winning! But the Team is, bound to a strict statute, not open to political interests and it maintains by cooptation.)
Before I can loose myself in daydreams I have to work on my first step: to find the first person in the world who finds that my Idea makes sense. So that we are two of us. So that we can cooperate to find a third.
Here comes MY endeavour of our ultimate origin story. Direct your arrows on it, please, I do it daily myself, with everything I read. The special character of MY origin story is that it describes the continuum between our ape origin till our present situation. It shows why and how our earliest ancestors developed names for the things, and it shows the outcome of this serendipity: feeling of distance and independence between the hominids and their natural environment. This leading to the use of fire around 2mya and the migration out of Africa. It elucidates the stubborn conservatism of our ancestors, the ‘birth of God" and our religious feelings. And in the end the roots of technological development, machism and stratification.
But my endeavour is only to show how easy we can make a consistent Ultimate Origin Story and an explanation of human nature. My real point is the need for a new universal non-patriarchical ‘creation story’. Hopefully I made sure you of this need.
THE STORY OF HUMAN ORIGIN
how it started
Ten million years ago (mya) the climate became cooler and dryer. Jungles turned into open savannah’s. Eight mya it the jungle where our earliest ancestors lived, in Northeast Africa, underwent this change. Then and there our story begins.
Our earliest ancestors were apes. A kind of chimpanzee. Frans de Waal (Bonobo 1997) says when we want an image of our earliest ancestors, we can look at the bonobo’s. Because they are the only kind of chimpanzee whose environment has never changed in all this time – a kind only changes when his environment changes.
So we name our earliest ancestors anbo’s (ancestor-bonobo’s).
It took tens of hundreds of thousands of years for their jungle to turn into savannah. The anbo’s never had any idea of this change, so the adaptations to the new conditions passed unperceived. But for our story this adaptations are important.
Savannah is a diversified environment. Open woodlands interspersed with impenetrable shrubs and with grasslands with herds of many kinds of grass eaters.
The anbo’s lived in the woodlands, where they spent the nights in nests high in the trees. But these woodlands, along the shores of rivers and lakes, didn’t contain the fruit trees their ancestors lived from. For their food the anbo’s had to roam the open grasslands. Very dangerous for apes, because of the big cats that predated the grass eaters. Big lions and sabre tooth tigers and other formidable predators. The sabre tooth tigers where specialists in predating pachyderms, like rhinoceros and hippopotamus and (ancestors of the) elephants. They ripped open the bellies with their sabre teeth and fed on the entrails (nature is cruel and doesn’t know empathy). The rest of the cadaver they left to the hyena’s and because of the surplus of the cadavers of the sabre tooth tigers it were giant hyenas. So the Miocene (22 – 5 mya) savannah was much more dangerous than the nowadays Serengeti. Though the anbo’s were much stronger than we now, they needed special armament to roam the grasslands safely.
The ancestral ape-armament against their predators is throwing with something, with all they can grasp at the moment.
Jane Goodall tells the story of Mister Worzle. The bananas she put down for the chimpanzees to hold them in her neighbourhood for studying their behaviour, allured baboons too. Big and brave monkeys, who frightened some chimpanzee-women. But Mister Worzle gave not a centimetre of ground and threw with everything he could grasp: grass, branches, one time (baboons happy) a bunch of bananas, but soon he discovered that stones worked best and shortly he used still bigger stones.
The anbo’s had to become professional stone throwers for their living. They could not take a step on the savannah in safety without the armament of their stones. One stone is not enough for the safety, you need a handful of stones. But how can apes carry stones?
Hides enough everywhere on the savannah, because hyena’s eat everything, even the bones they can break with their mighty jaws but hairy skins are not that edible. So hides to carry things all over the place. And with 20 millions of experience in braiding and wattling sleep nests making ties is nothing.
But how must apes carry bags studded with stones?
How do apes carry heavy things? In their hands and then they go on their feet. In tens of hundreds of thousands of years the anbo’s turned into professional biped’s: longer and stronger legs, special pelvis and buttock muscles, special midriff and blood circulation. At least they made a good start developing these things, good enough for foraging on the savannah. With maintenance of the climbing facilities of hands and feet: they could not yet sleep on the floor because they had no campfires.
Women carry their babies and they had to gather food for them and everybody, so they couldn’t carry and throw stones. Men couldn’t gather food because the predators are always alert to moments of un-alertness. So the anbo’s cultivated a division of labour from the very beginning. Women and children gathered the food: grass seeds, tubers and roots (with digging sticks), larva’s and insects, eggs and little animals. The adult men did nothing but care for safety. Anyhow, the groups who cultivated these behaviours the most, flourished and kept more children alive and outnumbered the groups which were clumsy at these things. In tens of hundreds of thousands of years. In hundreds of generations groups with this behaviour survived.
The same mechanism for group harmony. Bonobo’s live in groups with female dominance, and group harmony is characteristic of them. They solve all tensions with sex. It is clear that the anbo’s professionalised this behaviour too. Nice breasts and buttocks for the women (the ‘attractive’ red vagina’s of the chimpanzee-women were not maintainable for biped’s), nice big penises for the men, and permanent sexual willingness and ceiled oestrus of the women, all mechanisms for reducing tensions in this necessarily staunch living groups.
names for the things
Food enough on the savannah. But especially the women had to know when and where which food was available. Living was far more complicated on the savannah than in the jungle where the food hangs on the trees and the only thing you have to know is where the next fruit is ripe when your tree is emptied. So the anbo’s needed more communication than the normal rain forest communication (cries, gestures, facial expressions and other body language).
It started in one group. One women developed the practice of imitating with her hands and fingers what she meant: [water], [stone], [a special plant], [a special larva], [sabre tooth tiger], [a special place], [a special act or operation] or whatever. Her daughters and other women became familiar with her useful habit and followed this practice. The better communication improved the cooperation in the group, benefited survival, the group flourished more than groups with clumsy communication.
But these gesture-imitations of the things were (the beginning of) names for the things. There is something going on with an animal that can name the things. It is not only the better communication and cooperation, it creates a distance between the namer and the object. It is a mental professionalising of the ape ability of throwing, which enables a distance between the thrower and the object. It creates a feeling of power over the object, even – or just – when you aren’t powerful.
It started with nothing, but I think it started from the very beginning. Because the need for more communication was there from the beginning and the free hands with those ten fingers were available from the beginning.
It started with nothing and it started slowly. Like all developments in nature. Like the beginning of life on earth. For three billion years (a short side-leap here) there was nothing to see – there weren’t eyes anyhow; only the sky turned from brown into blue. And then, from 900 mya on, little worms and crabs and plants, fishes, plants and amphibians on the land, reptiles, dinosaurs and mammals, apes, us.
Still more names for still more things. The flourishing group mixed with other groups and also the new habit of communication spread, like in later times agriculture spread from Middle-East over Europe. The anbo-population grew to a very special kind of animals, with more flexibility and inventiveness than other animals, even than other hominids whose groups were without such a cultural habit of communication. Hominids is the name palaeontologists give to bipedal apes of the Mio-Pliocene. (Pliocene 5 – 1.4 mya) The common name for the Pliocene hominids is Australopithecus. My abbreviation: AP’s. From now on I name our ancestor-apes AP-an’s.
The AP-an’s developed more flexibility and inventiveness than other animals and even than other AP’s. Why? The result of the possibility of conferring one another. Two know more than one and as a group you can solve big problems. Separated hooligans are nothing but as a group they are terrifying. It is the stack up of inventiveness. AP-groups devoid of this facility – boisei, robustus, aethiopicus, even afarensis– died out. I presume with some help of the AP-an’s.
The AP-an’s (we don’t know which fossil – if any – belongs to the AP-an population) detached slowly but inevitably from the animal world. 2 mya they made a big jump.
It was again the climate that triggered the jump. During five million years the climate was stable and gave no reason for changing behaviour. But then began the Ice Ages, the periodical increase of ice caps on the poles and around the high mountains. Cold periods (maxima) interspersed with warm periods (minima). It started with a dramatic cooling and drying. Jungles receded to a narrow and interrupted belt around the equator, savannahs turned into deserts.
It was again a woman who had the courage to take a glowing branch of an extinguishing natural fire. She took it, trembling with fear, to a safe place, fed it with dry grass and wood and breathed in new life: fire.
Of course the AP-an’s knew the attractive qualities of fire, and they were not the only animals who were lured by the far clouds of a fire. Vultures and other carrion eaters and even antelopes approached carefully, enticed by carrion and salty ashes. The AP-an women knew that some tubers and other plants, normally not edible, were edible after the work of the fire.
Why a woman again? Women have to feed their children and do everything for more and better food for their children. Perhaps it was an old and experienced woman. Perhaps she had as a young girl swayed around a glowing stick and had seen it took flame again. But nevertheless trembling with fear: she was the first animal in the history of life on earth that managed to suppress the normal animal impulse to flee. As an effect of the distance, created by names for the things, by having a name for the fire. The feeling of power through the name giving.
How can I assume the point in time of 2 mya? Two ‘hard’ evidences. The AP-anbo’s started from now on growing in shape, because of the better food, and turned from AP-an to Homo erectus. Second: palaeontologists like Ralph Rowlett and Randy Bellomo studied the different influence of a natural fire and a campfire on the underground. The soil under campfires reach much higher temperatures and the fire leaves behind a bowl-shaped layer of highly oxidised and magnetized soil. In Koobi Fora were found such remains of campfires of 1.6 mya. The start of the control of fire began a long time before that moment. ‘2 mya’ is not a date, it is only an easy story number, like ’10 mya’ and ‘8 mya’.
The control of fire turned the AP-an’s into Homo erectus. So time for a new abbreviation: HE’s. Again it was one group of AP-an’s wherein this invention started, but it dispersed soon in all other AP-an groups, again like later the agriculture, through intense exchanges of sexpartners and meetings. The HE-population dispersed over Africa and started the Out of Africa dispersion over Eurasia.
The last findings in the paleoanthropological sites Dmanisi (1,7 mya) and Flores (descendants of hominids of Java from 1.6 mya) point, for the first emigration ‘out of Africa’, to the ancestors of the HE’s: the H.habilis. The HE’s are from 1.64 mya and the investigators find a more primitive hominid, with a more primitive tool box. My date of 2mya for the start of the use of fire gets reinforced!
Our kind is the only in nature which controls fire. The cause is: only our AP-an’s became linguistic creatures, as the consequence of developing names for the things.
A linguistic creature experiences his world as a named world. It knows his world, but it knows the things only to the extent of having a name for them.
Only several names for several things is not enough to become a linguistic creature. Look at the family Washoe. This is the group of chimpanzees who learned ASL (American Sign Language) when they were young and in a human family setting, today living in Ellensburg, in the lifelong care of Roger and Debbie Fouts (www.cwu.edu/~cwuchci/). Family Washoe uses 300 names for 300 things. Far to little to experience their world as a named world.
What enables an ape to become a linguistic creature?
What makes – in other words – an animal communication to a language?
A stock of words, a vocabulary. A innumerable stock of names for a countless number of things.
How do we make our vocabulary? With phonemes: speech sounds with no sense of their own (say the letters of the alphabet), the building stones of an endless number of words.
We make the phonemes with our speech apparatus: throat, tongue, lips and cheeks. But … apes cannot make (enough) phonemes because their throat is too short and their tongue too narrow. Experiments in training a young chimpanzee to speak resulted in nothing. Another ‘handicap’ is: they cannot control their cries. Their cries are neurologically driven by the limbic system, an older part of the brain. Like our own cries of pain and anguish: when we hit our thumb with the hammer, we cannot withhold a cry of pain. With a tickling in our throat we cannot withhold a cough.
How could our ape ancestors – even the Neanderthals lacked the modern speech apparatus – have a language without phonemes at their disposal? They had the sign-alternative for phonemes, cheremes: language signs without own sense, but the building stones for an endless number of sign language words.
This process: a start with several names for several things to the ability to make a stock of names, reminds me always of the development of the writing.
8.000 ya still more people in the Middle East lived as farmers in villages. Each family contributed a part of the yield of fields and cattle to the temple, for the anniversaries, the barter with other villages and the emergencies. The temple functionaries needed, to forestall parasitizing and envy, to note what exactly each family tributed to the temple. The notes were engraved in the clay of the storage urns (later on tablets). The first notes were pure imitations, drawings. But … not artworks, utmost ‘minimal art’: the representation was divested of all that was not strict necessary for the identification. It became more and more stylised symbols.
So started Sumerian writing: pictograms, simple representations of what was meant. So a simple depict of a head stood for <head> and two wriggling lines for <water>. But soon this two symbols meant <drinking> and even <drink>. The pictogram’s became more and more schematic and only comprehensible for a writer.
The big jump came when some pictograms got a sound value, mostly the initial sound of the word-symbol. Soon there was a complete alphabet. The big jump to the written language: personal messages, enactments and laws, record of the oral tradition, the heroism of the successive warlords (history writing), schools, scholarship.
Like this process the cheremes came into the human communication. The gestures were not more elaborated than enough to the wise. The less elaborated the gesture, the more gestures one can make in a communication moment. In most discussions you get little time to make your point, isn’t it? In a group of gossiping women each woman wants to contribute her share. Soon some gestures got the sense of syllables, building stones of sign words.
I’m to old for sms, but in this communication we can see the same evolution, I suppose.
the birth of God
Our ancestors, now HE’s (Homo erectus) spread from the tropics to the temperate zones in Africa and Eurasia. It was a slow migration, about 30 miles each generation. When a successful group became too numerous, tensions rose and then soon a little group of young women, children and men decided to put in use a new territory. This land was already known because each young woman or man made – as the initiation of adult life – a big journey. By safe and sound return they could tell till their old age of far worlds and strange people.
The settlers were the first humans who gave the mountains and rivers and lakes and marshes and fruit trees and wild animals of the new territory their names. As I said, for humans the things only exist to the extent they have a name for it. For their descendants these settlers were the creators of the tribe territory. Men always had (and still have) the practice of defining a total group as one person (The American for all Americans, The Australian for all Australians) and so the descendants spoke of The Big Ancestor.
Linguistic creatures. But humans are part of the animal world. In the mind of the HE’s they were not linguistic creatures (not even in your mind, dear reader, you are a linguistic creature!) but animals. They felt themselves animals and born of a special kind of animal.
It is something like our babies. Newborn babies live with the idea they are still part of their mother, like it was all their life time in mama’s belly. During their sleep (dream – mind this word) this situation goes on, especially when the normal moves, shakes and sounds continue. When they are awake, the unceasing and loving attention of mama and others give them the confidence of safety, and then the neurological programming can do its work in growing up, step by step, to normal childhood and maturity. The same step by step development characterises the experience of the environment (world) of our ancestors. They thought their origin in Dreamtime. And they thought totemistic.
Now comes the point.
Linguistic creatures live in a named world. A world full of things, full of names. This would be a chaos in their heads when they had no structure in this mass of names. The obvious structure is the story, the A to Z story, the creation story. The story of their world and humanity. Their ‘world’ was the tribe territory, and ‘men’ were the people of their tribe. (People of other tribes, with strange languages, were not real men because they ‘couldn’t even talk!’; but they could become human by adoption or marriage: by incorporation in THE tribe.)
The creation story of the tribe tells how The Big Ancestor (never a man or a woman – fits! it was a group – but something between animal and human) in the Dreamtime entered the tribe land on a special place and made his journey through the land. Everywhere on his journey He left behind the mountains, lakes and trees and all the special things of the land. He also left behind, on a special place, the little souls who could fly in the belly of a woman when she passed by that place, the same place where the soul returns when the person dies. The Big Ancestor could travel through the sky or under the ground. At the end of the story He leaves the land on a special place under the ground.
This Story our ancestors sang/danced at every occasion. Special creations (mountains, trees or animals) were also important Figures in the Story, with special tasks or abilities. This Story of the creation of their world was so important to them that they believed their world would come to an end when they no longer sang/danced their world.
In the old times there has never been a tribe that did not have his sung/danced Story. Thousands of generations of sang/dancing our world and our community, this practice has become part of our genome. We are born with the inclination to singing/dancing perceiving of the world. When the baby cries, it will be quiet when mama sings/dances with the baby in her arms. This inclination is the religious feeling that remains even when we are brights (www. the-brights.net). It is this ancestral practice that makes us “incurably religious” as Dorothee Solle († 2003) defined it – without further explanation of course.
The creation story as described above evolved with the thousands of generations and in only a few of the tribes you can recognise the original form of it. In most tribes only some myths are left. One epidemic which the old people decimate and a total sung/danced creation story can disappear forever.
There must be a ‘moment’ in exchanging acting from instinct to acting from deliberation and consulting. No two captains on the ship of your thinking! That they no longer acted by instinctive reaction on a sensual impulse, like a normal animal, they showed with the control of the fire.
Thinking? Animals? Of course animals think. The ‘higher’ kinds of mammals and birds make ‘scenario’s’ in their brains, possibilities of what can happen or be done, in order to choose what’s best. Intelligence. Some kinds of animals or birds we see as more intelligent than other kinds, but every kind is the most intelligent in its special niche. The tortoise is the most intelligent animal in the tortoise niche. And where instinct is concerned: only lower kinds of animals act only by instinctive reaction. Group animals act for a great deal by learning, example and intelligent trial and error.
But consciousness is unique to humans, isn’t it?
It depends on what you mean by ‘consciousness’. Do you mean: aware of your environment? Every animal can be knocked out. Do you mean: self-conscious? Apes evidently display self-consciousness, plenty of examples.
What’s then unique to humans? That we have names for the things when we think. The animal thinking is the manipulating of the things with representations of the things in the brain. In our human thinking the representations have labels, ‘handles’, ‘grips’, with which we can grasp the things. So we can better ‘handle’ the things, not only to communicate the things but also for easier and better thinking.
So when we speak about the concept of ‘consciousness’, we can better name it linguistic consciousness. Linguistic consciousness is unique to humans.
the dramatic consequences of becoming linguistic creatures for our kind
1 . The first dramatic consequence is for Nature (Universe). It is the insight of the American astrophysicist Eric Chaisson, that the Universe started with – in the primordial stars – the simplest kind of complexity: the mere fusion of hydrogen and helium. In this fusion developed complex molecules, that endured in the clouds of dust around the implosions of this stars. In favourable environments, on some planets of the second generation stars, these complex molecules (matter) could generate more complex combinations, like DNA on Earth. In the rare ideal circumstances on Earth the complexity of matter made progress, step by step, in the evolution of life forms. The incentive to this evolution is: finding ever refining tricks for taking energy from the environment. The cell was a step, and so was the super cell, was multicellularity, were organisms, were sense-organs, were brains, was intelligence. Living in groups was a step. The linguistic consciousness of humans is the ultimate trick, the (provisional?) culmination of complexity of matter in the Universe. But: still for taking energy from the environment for staying alive and procreating.
2. The linguistic consciousness, the grasping, comprehending, understanding of the world (ratio), started by zero, with little. It was hopelessly deficient. Nevertheless the humans had to rely on it: they had put their instinct on the second level. When you no longer use an organ, it shrinks and so faired our instinct.
Because the humans started to understand their world with a weak and unreliable understanding, they fell prey to uncertainty. We became ‘The Worrying Ape’ ( title of another text of mine).
Not a new phenomenon in the Universe: uncertainty. When an animal comes in a situation in which his instinct cannot give an impulse, uncertainty is there. But for humans uncertainty became a constant, became part of the ‘human condition’.
Humans cannot live with constant uncertainty, so they developed two anguish allaying mechanisms.
a. repeat: rhythm, dance/singing (“in the dark”!), rituals and traditions (doing things like they always did)
b. belief : that things are like we want them to be, or like somebody with status and/or authority says they are. But in primitive times humans weren’t acquainted with the concept of authority, they were equal. Their most important part of belief was magic (fear allaying actions) and myths (unscientific elucidations of their world). Read my lips: for our ancestors it was never important if a story was true. The only importance of a story was if it was a good story: a story which they wanted to be true. The story of the birth of Eva out of a rib of Adam was, in the time of patriarchy, a good story because the men wanted to hear this: it gave them the believe of supremacy on top of the women.
3. The thus allayed uncertainty enabled the humans to intervene in their environment. Names for the things gave also (a feeling of) power over the things. It created a distance between the understanding brain and the object: the understood thing or phenomenon. The first critical intervention was the control of the fire. Humankind became a factor in Nature that got a mental but also an instrumental power over the world. The conviction (idea with a reality of which a person beliefs, has to convict himself! e.g. the honour of the Muslim men) that some words – like incantations, charms or spells – can evoke magical forces and can create or destroy, is ancient. Knowing somebody’s name gives a feeling of power over him.
Besides this the ability to exchange complex thought scenarios with each other is a powerful device: two know more than one and with a brainstorm people can overcome the biggest problems.
4. Between the linguistic creatures and the environment rose an apparatus of thousands of concepts (sign language codes with associated representations in the brains) which created a ‘virtual’ world. Only named things are part of our world, but how can we be sure that this is the only world? Much philosophers, Plato with his cave metaphor; Emmanuel Kant with the thing as representation and the thing in itself; and many other thinkers wrestle with the feeling that, beside the world we know, there is a world which we are but which, just because we want to name and know it, slips from our hands. So it is difficult to talk about this world. But linguistic consciousness takes only 20% of our thinking. Perhaps that philosophical ‘second’ or ‘real’ world exists in the other 80% part of our thinking. Hey! Here I open a nice window for our modern ‘shamans: a new region for their spiritual speculations! Better to stay on our human ‘garret’ of linguistic consciousness.
5. the bastion of holyness. Our ancestors kept the uncertainty liveable with belief and magic rituals. You believe when/where you don’t know – even when/where you don’t wánt it to believe. So it were imaged certitudes, pseudo-elucidations, not evidences. Deep in their minds the uncertainty’s lived on. So the elucidations were canonicated to holy elucidations. Holy is: unassailable. No touch! May not be doubted or called in question! (E.g. the honour of the Muslim men.)
But this is at right angles to the progress of our linguistic consciousness, our knowing, our ratio. To the only ability which can really free us from uncertainty. This is really dramatic!
This is the title of the – for the matter of philosophy – most important book of Frans de Waal (1996).
In the eyes of our philosophers humans are bad, fierce and violent by nature. Only through education and civilisation the man is socialised and good. But what is the scientific evidence for this assumption? Oh (is their answer), the old philosophers, our science, always said so. Plato, Hobbes, you know.
But what was the scientific evidence for Plato? None, there weren’t any social sciences in Plato’s time. Plato lived in a time of civil war and slavery and this observations coloured his concept of man. A concept of feeling and observation.
Feeling? Do you feel bad and fierce and violent? No. Observation? You never see a person who cares about another person? You never hear of a person who saves another person from a burning house or the water? A person as the Potamac man? Are this persons un-natural?
When humans were fierce and violent by nature, we would enjoy a war and have a good time seeing a rape or a murder. But no, we are shocked and grieved and afflicted. How can our philosophers persist in their assumption? Because they only study their science: philosophy, and no other social sciences. To appreciate the book of Frans de Waal philosophers have to change their paradigm. Safer for them is nót to study such books. They are to busy with their (postmodern!) philosophy anyhow. But … they still have much influence on the other Public Intellectuals. Dramatic!
As we saw at the sabre tooth tigers: nature is cruel and doesn’t know empathy. This is the point of departure. Humans are Nature. They know empathy because they are a kind of chimpanzee. Chimps know empathy because they are higher group animals. Humans ‘professionalised’ this behaviour, we are the most social animals in Nature. Perhaps we are ‘un-naturalised’!
Nature is eating or being eaten, is food-chain. About the evolution of life, the principle of Eric Chaisson is: finding still refining tricks for taking energy from the environment. But another incentive for an organism is: passing-on its DNA. A lovely thing as maternal care is from this point of view: the incentive to pass-on her DNA.
Good for an organism is: taking as much energy from its environment to be strong enough to pass-on its DNA. Sense-organs and intelligence are beneficial, but also weapons, for defence or attack are beneficial. And violence. And poisonousness and so on. These are all good qualities for an organism. In the struggle for life.
But in birds and perhaps in more dino’s mother care developed, a refining in passing-on DNA and sacrificing immediate egoism. Living in groups, with accompanying give and take and compassion for group members, is a next refining in taking energy from the environment to pass DNA. Perhaps already in dino’s. A group animal – elephant, whale, ape – cannot live well without his group: then he deserves the protection but also the knowledge, stored in the culture of the group. He is not born with this knowledge, he has to learn it in his youth. An ape cannot even copulate when he never saw it from adults when he was a young ape; young apes are very curious to see the adults copulate. An ape-woman cannot care for her baby when she never saw mother care in her youth. (What did I say about instinct?!)
Group animals like chimpanzees, our next of kin in the animal world, have an extensive repertoire of social skills (compassion and console, reconcile, commitment, good leadership, altruism, devotion and friendship, sorrow and communal sense. These are all good qualities for a group animal. We were already social creatures before we were human, philosophers! And we ‘professionalised’ these social skills in our evolution to humanity.
It were special circumstances who made chimpanzees and us to be fierce and violent. Study this circumstances but depart from social inclination!
Group animals are moved by two impulses: egoism (passing-on your DNA) and altruism (you have more chances to pass on your DNA in an harmonious group, so you must curb your egoism). These two impulses are at right angles and would condemn the individual to a paralysing indecision if they hadn’t a calming mechanism at their disposal: manners, rules for social intercourse, culture, ‘norms and values’. When two chimpanzee-males had a fight, they try desperately to reconcile because they need each other against aggression from the neighbour group. The same mechanism works in humans.
But … this is the egoism-as-a-group. With aggression and violence against other groups. Xenophobia.
The unique position of humanity in Nature is that we have the capability to reflection. The Iroquois confederacy, the league of the Kayapo Indians of Brazil were fruits of their capability to reflect on xenophobia. A further refining step on the path of extracting energy from the environment and of passing-on DNA. Today we can realize: all groups of humans have the same interest: survive on the planet Earth. There is no other place outside our planet for us for extracting energy and for passing-on our DNA. Humans have the capability to make the final step beyond group harmony: harmony between all our groups.
Our real creation story will be a great help in this reflection.
fierceness and violence, or: why we wage war? why machism?
Our kind started in very harmonious groups with the women as the dominant gender. The survival on the savannah’s was extremely precarious, in harmony living groups flourished better than groups with tensions. The natural selection advanced harmony. Millions and millions of years in harmony, this is what made us the most social kind in Nature and what made us good natured.
Why then, for Gods sake, did Plato live in a time of civil war and slavery? Why Holocaust, Rwanda and Srebrenica? Or, in other words: why are men the dominant gender now?
We find the answer in the chimpanzees.
We may assume the ancestors of the chimpanzees, the ‘chibo’s’, lived more harmoniously than their descendants now and the cause is the climate again. 2 mya the Ice Ages started. The shrinkings of the rain wood, each Ice Age maximum too little rain wood for too many living groups, means every time overpopulation. So: struggle for survival. Groups with the most violent men survived.
For our kind overpopulation would play his role in far later times.
200 thousand years ago (200 tya) in Northern Africa developed, as descendants of the African HE’s, the Anatomically Modern Man (AMM). The tropical HE’s over there were long and slender. Where the stocky figures of the Neanderthals adapted to a cold climate, their African contemporaries (I name them Afro-HE’s) were adapted to a hot climate. Long and slender, so longer necks also. More place for lower throat and bigger pharynx. Our pharynx plays an important role in making vowels.
I told you of the communication moment. In most discussions you get little time to make your point and each woman wants to contribute her mite. From the very beginning their voices played a role in the sign communication. With communication in the dark, or with full hands, always was the pressure there to more linguistic load in their voice sounds. For the long and slender Afro-HE’s the longer necks facilitated this process and 100 tya the communication of the population over there was in a transition from still more speech and a subordination of the sign language.
I think it was a female development in the first place. And a ceremonial – so female – development. Males would never risk the success of their hunting with a prayer to the Big Ancestor or another mighty animal ghost with a female speech, they clung on the sacral sign language for their prayers. Nowadays the Semai hunters still pray to their God in sign language before each hunting trip. Also for the sacral singing/dancing of their Creation Stories which had a so dominant place in the life of our ancestors, the sign language must have survived long-time – when we look to the important role of the gestures in sacral rituals today.
But there is something going on with a person who speaks only with his voice: he can lie. Telling lies is difficult or even impossible for you as a sign language speaker, because your whole body lies with you and your company is experienced in reading body language. The American deafs could be very angry at a speech of Reagan: they saw when he was lying! So I think the transition to speak, with a straight face, altered their community a bit. They became more individualistic than they were before. Their independence of their world grew. The bond of the tradition loosened a little bit.
Just as newborns like tight swaddling-clothes, so too did our early ancestors like the very tight bonds of tradition, as cover from the uncertainty after loosing their animal instinct certitude. The NT’s and also the Afro-HE’s still clung to rigid tradition. But the AMM’s got a little more self-confidence and individualism by the new and faster communication. From the NT’s is not known the use of tools made from bone or ivory. But the AMM’s started to make harpoons and fishhooks (is not possible with stone as raw material). From the African AMM’s is known that they eat fish and sea-food, not from the NT’s or Afro-HE’s. I agree it is an unprecedented speculation to connect this new behaviour – some authors speak of “The Great Leap Forward” – with the new equipment for linguistic communication, but perhaps it makes sense. Sure is the increase of the pressure of overpopulation and the migration to Middle East and Eurasia: the second ‘Out of Africa’– migration. This time also over Western-Europe, where they in 10.000 years caused the extinction of the NT’s.
Back to the point now: why war and why male dominance?
We saw it in the chimpanzees: overpopulation brings war and foster violence in males. The same mechanism works in humans. The longest times of the evolution of our kind the populations grew slowly and the world was wide. So equality between the genders or even female dominance. Because women fight for their children and children need quarrels to find their place in the status order, women always look for a hulk as an arbitrator. It is quite possible that communities, even with female dominance and leadership, had from the earliest times, a headman. In greater and later groups possibly males and females lived apart for most hours of a day, and had their own rituals.
But also in humans overpopulation manifested itself, in later times and in some places. In shrinking regions, in deteriorating climatical conditions. Then the groups with the most violent males survived, and found women violence in males good. We see it still in all tribes with incessant and hopeless tribal wars: it occurs always and only in a situation of overpopulation.
But why do all these tribes know machism (male dominance) and sometimes severe violence against their women? Why this unproductive suppression of their indispensable and attractive partners in life?
In my eyes this is the ‘hard evidence’ of the female dominance in the long, long times before the overpopulation situation. In times of survival the ‘fittest’ groups are the groups with the most violence males, as we saw, and then the women see violence as a good quality in males. So they promote this quality in their men and sons. The males, next these prestigious women who could bleed and bear children and cared for the food, hadn’t been in the division of labour long-time no much more than hulks for the defence and later for the provision of meat. They had always felt themselves the second-rate sex.
Now all at once the males ‘found out’ they were very, very important! They ‘found out’ that their rituals were far more important than the rituals of the women! And they got hold of the holy flutes! (This element we find in many myths.)
But it was only their situation that had changed (war), not the males and not the women themselves. So the males had to suppress their uncertainty, to allay their own doubts, and declared the new relations holy. The deep uncertainty of the males force them to a constant denigration of the female abilities. The fundamentalist males still display this primitive uncertainty, with their honour, their conviction.
At what point in our history can we date the start of war and male dominance (machism, better word than patriarchy)? When you see the state of machism in all American tribes up to the south of South America – a situation of overpopulation of a tribe makes a great difference; the egalitarity of the Iroquois have a totally different source – we may assume it was a cultural legacy of the first settlers from Siberia 14.000 ya.
A good question is: was it not a legacy of the AMM’s already? Was their immigration Out of Africa not a result of overpopulation already? Even the most egalitarian tribes like the Mbuti (Congo) know machism. In the past the Mbuti males annexed the molima, the rites of the holy flutes and excluded the women of it. The women still disturb the molima and cry that the men have stolen the molima and the holy flutes from them! We can learn very much of the Mbuti in concern of our past.
So when you say: machism is 50.000 years old, I agree. But when you say: machism is part of human nature, I say definitely no! Even 50.000 years is not enough to change human nature. Machism is a result of overpopulation, and overpopulation is not that old in human history. Machism is unnatural. Women know that.
AND NOW THE IDEA FOR THE
HOUSE OF HUMANISM
Dear reader, this was not THE new Origin Story of our globalizing western society. It is an example of a consistent origin story of how our kind evolved from apes to humans. Consistent with all the phenomena of our human condition. (When you can tell a more consistent origin story, I give up mine immediately and ask all my thousand women to lay off all the gold of their necklaces and bracelets, ears, eyebrows, underlips and nipples and I make a golden statue for you.) It was an endeavour to help to open the discussion.
That we desperately need a new Origin Story, demonstrate the Creationists who want to fight against human progress toward more humanity. They feel no responsibility for our surviving on our planet, they only feel responsibility for their conviction (idea with a reality of which a person has to convict himself!).
That we desperately need a new Origin Story, demonstrate the Islamists, who want to fight against human progress in the same mentality as the Creationists, but with the political premises that human progress is an American or western interest.
That we desperately need a new Origin Story, demonstrates our youth, who feel themselves floating in a world with “no future”, because of no past, no Story.
That we desperately need a new Origin Story, demonstrates our morality.
That we desperately need a new Origin Story, demonstrate our governments, who lack orientation and compass to steer our societies in the turbulent sea of financial capitalism and globalisation.
I repeat: my IDEA aims a team of science writers, paid by the international community (UNESCO) with the mandate to reconstruct the story of human nature and mentality, by means of the human sciences. The results of their explorations are not a Book but periodicals. The team is permanent, and stays in life by cooptation.
And I repeat: the new believe in mankind is not intended (not in the first instance) for individuals. Because a believe is everybody’s own choice. The new universal believe is intended for our governments. As ground for their identity and conduct.
I wait for your opinion.
 I read Jonathan Kirsch God against the gods (Viking Compass, 2004)
Jessica Stem Terreur in naam van God (Spectrum, 2004)
Marilyn French From Eve to Dawn: A Women’s History of the World (1995)
Rosalind Miles The Women’s History of the World (London, 1988)
 I read: Nicholas Reeves Achnaton (Tirion, 2002)
Harry Wilson Het volk van de farao’s (Bosch & Keuning, 1998)
Bible in Dutch Handbijbel in NBG-vertaling 1951
 when I have to choose: I guess (a branch of) AP africanus