Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Sat, 11 Feb 1995 13:45:11 CST

At this point our thread seems to be diverging in a number of
directions. That's fine by me, but I want to stick with the
question that first attracted me to the thread. (I.e., was/is
the evolution of intelligence primarily driven by selection
for tool manufacture and use or was/is it primarily driven by
social pressures?) Surely tools must have played some part
in it all, but I still maintain that that part of the puzzle
is at most subsumed under social pressures. Scott Holmes
makes a good case for environmental/contextual change as an
important factor in the story. However, environmental change
doesn't necessarily drive patterns of tool use more than patterns
of social behavior (and I don't think Scott meant to imply that it
did). Environmental change is likely to affect social organization
and behavior as much as or more than it is likely to affect
anything. Some of the social consequences might include division
of labor, group size, leadership, cooperation and inter-group
conflict over access to resources. Consider two familiar examples
from the ethnography. (1) When the Ik's environment changed through
contact with the national government resulting in reduction of
their range the response was not played out in terms of technology.
The Ik didn't do much to shift their subsistence practices or
seek out (think up) new technological solutions. They did, however,
have very profound changes in their patterns of social behavior.
The result for them was a novel social environment. Survival
and reproduction depended on being able to figure out this new
environment. In the end Turnbull didn't tell us how they worked
it out or if they survived, but I'm willing to bet that smart
Ik either left the group or worked out new kinds of social relations.
(2) When kuru came to the Fore the impact was felt most profoundly
in the realm of social life, not in medical technology. Fore
treatments were (if I'm not mistaken) old ones based on the
existing technological repertoire. However, the social response
was completely new. Fathers switched their social behavior to
cover for the loss of women and the traditional division of labor
totally broke down. I think we can assume that early hominids
had similar kinds of social response to environmental change.
These social changes set up selection pressures that ultimately
resulted in the evolution of a mind primarily adapted for navigating
social environments. I would argue that these new psychological
mechanisms were coopted for tool use.

At this point I would like to suggest that we more seriously take up
the issue of the strength of feedback in (a) social relationships (b) in
technology and (c) between the two. Also, I think we should consider the
mosaic evolution of the mind.

Rob Quinlan