Re: The origin of personal property

Richard Foy (
Tue, 20 Aug 1996 14:28:50 GMT

In article <>,
Paul Crowley <> wrote:
>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".

This seems to me to be inconsistant with nomadic small scale cultures
of the recent past, at least from what I know of them.

>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.


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