Re: [PALEO,LING] ] Re: Language, gesture, etc.

Matthew Hill (mhhill@WATARTS.UWATERLOO.CA)
Wed, 21 Feb 1996 21:23:19 -0500

On Wed, 21 Feb 1996, karl h schwerin wrote:

Vast amounts of decontextualizing deletion (I recognize the redundance)
> My hypothesis has been that the development of language was closely
> allied with the development of toolmaking - that the abstraction
> necessary in manufacturing a tool _type_ or maintaining a _tool
> tradition_ is closely akin to the abstraction involved in creating symbolic
> terminology. Again, the abstractions involved in Oldowan tool making
> (a tradition which lasted a million years or more) or Acheulean tools
> (lasting several 100,000 years) could hardly be as developed or complex
> as those involved in creating modern computers or the internet. But they
> were already embarked on that track. What I'm saying is that language
> must have developed slowly, but incrementally, just as did technology.
This may be pure naivety, but I have some problem in seeing where abstraction
comes into tool-making, at least at the level of oldowan and early

A tool-type is certainly an abstraction, but almost certainly more often
one made by archaeologists than by toolmakers. For the Oldowan and the
earlier Acheulean, there is reasonable doubt that the forms produced are
consistent for any reason other than raw material and technology. That
is, it seems unneccessary to assume that intent to produce that particular
form (beyond a form which has a sharp edge) existed. In fact, I
seem to recall that argument extended to include levallois technology. (sorry I
have no reference material to hand, but if desired i will attempt to
construct a world in which the relevant references exist).

In extention, is practice (I am not sure what praxis means) -"This is the
way I learned to do it" resulting in close duplication of the products of
others- abstraction? I find it quite concrete.

More deletion - deliberate but without prior malice

Matthew Hill (