Re: The origin of personal property

Philip Nicholls (
25 Aug 1996 15:55:04 GMT

Paul Crowley <> wrote in article
> 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.
> Paul.

Paul, what about cultures that do not HAVE a concept of personal property?
Does this mean, according to you, that they are not human?