Re: machines, chimps, people, and shared expectations

Rafael Candido Alvarado (rca2t@FARADAY.CLAS.VIRGINIA.EDU)
Thu, 27 Jan 1994 23:35:16 -0500 has written:
>difference between transsubstantiation and consubstantiation. That's culture,

After abstaining from the semesterly "What is Culture?" debate this time
around, I feel compelled to add to the above in order to prevent what
may develop into the almost equally predictable thread about whether or
not culture is unique to the human species. The simple answer to this
question is that it is unique to the human species if by culture we mean
what Graber has been saying it is all along (aside from his attempt to
explain it), namely Tylor's definition. The reason this is so is that
human beings possess language; not simply a sign system, on the order of
a bee dance or even a whale song, but a means with which to contruct out
the raw material of experience something philosophers used to call
consciousness. It is through language as *discourse* that human beings
inhabit a world, and not simply a situation. From this capacity for
discourse, the ability to tell stories, all of those features lumped
together by Tylor are made possible, produced by the precipitate of
language. When we encounter another species that also has this
capacity for discourse, then we can answer the question in the negative. SO
far, in spite a great deal of evidence shedding light on the evloution
of sign systems, no such evidence has been forthcoming.

P.S. Sorry to have clipped the quoted message; please see the original

R.C. Alvarado rca2t@Virginia.EDU
Department of Anthropology rca2t@Virginia.BITNET
University of Virginia uunet!virginia!rca2t