Re: Animal society/human culture

Jesse S. Cook III (jcook@AWOD.COM)
Mon, 5 Aug 1996 16:15:24 -0400

On 5 August 1996, Natalie Marie Underberg replied:

>Hi Jesse,
>Just to be clear, I actually don't have any particular opinion about
>whether chimpanzees have "culture;" I just wanted to offer the reference.
>I have not read the book, to be honest. But I did take a class with the
>author and we spent a few sessions on this question. My offering to this
>discussion concerned the issue of toolmaking as incipient culture. This
>is his speciality, and this is what he used to make his tentative argument
>about whether or not chimpanzees have culture. To my memory, he said the
>following: "Do chimpanzees have culture? Sort of." This didn't answer
>the question QUITE to my satisfaction, so I'd like to know what all you
>experts have to say about the issue of toolmaking or technology in
>general as a criterium for culture. I actually got my degree from UCB in
>soc/cult anthropology, and not physical, so I am just following this
>debate from a semi-informed perspective. I'd be interested
>to hear about how toolmaking fits into the argument about what defines
>culture. That is, how sophisticated does the toolmaking have to be to
>qualify as culture? Or does it not matter, because toolmaking is not a
>sufficient criterium to earn the epithet of "culture?" Let me know (any
>of you guys) what you think; I'd like to hear from all you physical
>anthropology/primatology experts...


Any resemblence between the stone-tool making of our ancestors and the
"toolmaking" of chimpanzees or any other nonhuman animals is purely
coincidental. The invention of stone tools by *Homo habilis* is the
beginning of culture.

Jesse S. Cook III E-Mail:
Post Office Box 40984 or
Charleston, SC 29485 USA

"Our attitude toward others is not determined by who *they* are;
it is determined by who *we* are."