The origin of personal property

Paul Crowley (
Sun, 18 Aug 96 18:07:36 GMT

In article <> "Richard Foy" writes:

> Paul Crowley <> wrote:
> >
> >I can't see personal property developing without fixed home
> >bases. It would be much easier when these also acquired some
> >kind of accomodation or shelter.
> I would think it depends on the personal property. Owning for example
> a single good stone or wooden weapon or tool would not IMO cause a
> need dor a fixed home base.

I don't think the concept of "personal property" could arise
unless each member or family had their own private space, which
was more or less respected by the rest of the community. There
*might* be exceptions for something that was worn, like a necklace
or a bangle, or for a weapon that the hominid carried around at
all times - and slept with. Otherwise the article has to be put
down. If it's not hidden, it will be "borrowed"; if it is hidden
and someone else finds it, the same will happen. As I see it,
there has to be a personal space, and things left there are
recogised as your property. Of course, they would get stolen,
but it would be seen *as* "stealing". If there is no such space,
then it's hard to see how it could be seen as "yours" or how it
could be "stolen".

Respecting another's property is far beyond the capacity of chimps.
Maybe this could be the distinguishing feature of hominids now
that tool use has gone - e.g. "owning a weapon". I'd say it came
early in hominid evolution; becoming skilled in the use of your
own club (or in the use of your own tools) would be big selective
advantage. But then I believe that fixed bome bases were there
from the start, so I don't have a problem fitting it in.