Re: Tools and Hominidae

Ralph L Holloway (rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 17 Feb 1995 22:19:14 -0500

Hello, Bob. I have backed off only in sofar as I think that it is pushing
things too far to claim homology between tool-making cognition and
language. But when I talk of tool-making, I really mean something very
different from tool-using. Nor do I believe tool types says anything
about language , but tool-making processes for almost any of the tool
types does, to answer Quinlan somewhat (hows that for parsimony?). But
Bob, what I don't understand is this compulsin for a parsimonious
explanation that you keep returning to. Why does the explanation have to
be parsimonious? Using the same cause-effect mechanisms to explain
phenomena such as brain size increases in different species is one such
example of a parsimony that I believe fails. That is why I discussed
Magorah maruyama's understanding of Prigogine's thermodynamic views in my
Danish Brain paper in 1980 AJPA. Anyway, glad to see the thread continue.
Regards, Ralph Holloway.
On Fri, 17 Feb 1995, SS51000 wrote:

> Though the connection--long championed by R. Holloway--between tool use
> and language remains (by his own admission) somewhat obscure, it is
> surely tantalizing. Roger Fouts, following Darwin himself, calls
> attention to the neurological linkage between precise manual dexterity
> and control of the tongue. (Darwin observed how regularly British
> schoolboys stuck out their tongues while learning to write.) With my
> usual penchant for parsimony, this argument--and others, such as Sue
> Savage-Rumbaugh's emphasis on the possible role of bipedalism in
> consonant production--makes me imagine an entire "package deal" in the
> divergence of hominids from the pongid line: bipedalism, canine
> reduction, language, and brain expansion--all triggered (not necessarily
> exactly simultaneously) by increasing reliance on making and using
> tools. The question is not whether this can be proven; the question is
> whether it is the simplest explanation, consistent with the evidence at
> hand (pun intended), for the hominid divergence. --Bob Graber