Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Tue, 7 Feb 1995 14:01:12 CST

I've been enjoying this thread. So here's a question or two and
a few comments.

1. Is there any good intelligence/technology scenario for human evolution
that does not require recourse to a "Man the hunter-like" story?
It seems that any incremental improvement in technology is likely to
only increase energy yield slightly. Learning is expensive and it may
well be that the energy input into technology is almost as much as the
energy yield. A small increase in energy yield does not automatically
translate into an increase in fitness. Otherwise, over-eaters would have
hundreds of kids, but there are diminishing returns. It seems a good way to
maximize the fitness value of a small increase in energy yield is to use it
gain social advantage -- i.e., to use it in social exchange. There are
two problems with the tool argument for the evolution of intelligence:
(a) it makes males the driving force behind human evolution (which makes
it automatically suspect), and (b) it presupposes a level of social
organization that is capable of converting energy resources into
social and ultimately reproductive resources. "Woman the tool user
qua gatherer" hypotheses are no better in terms of (b) and pretty much
totally lack a good route for the conversion of small increases in
energy yield into fitness.

2. Intelligence is really much more primitive than tool use. Take gorillas
for example. They are certainly among the most intelligent species.
Are we to suppose that their intellect evolved to more efficiently stuff
their faces with leaves? (Here I assume we have an ancestor in common w/

3. If tool use is the hallmark of intelligence, then can we say that
cultures with more tool types are more intelligent?

4. The intelligence of a species is reflected in the play of the species
young. If intelligence were strictly or primarily for tool use, then
we would expect play to consist of banging rocks together endlessly.
However, play in most species is about experimenting with social scenarios
(e.g. fights etc.) and figuring out one's place in the social system.

I think the technology hypothesis represents a Western, male centered,
technophile world view.

Rob Quinlan