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When Men?

January 23, 2013

     When men?

     The big question.  When did that wandering primate become man?  At what point?

     The use of tools is often mentioned, but this remains to be exactly defined.  We know that primates past and present use rocks and sticks in display, defense and food gathering and, if this is tool use, we need a more refined demarcation.  Was it when the rock was chipped for an edge or a stick shaped to fit the hand or pointed?  Was it at that point when rock was fitted to stick to make a more effective bludgeon?  Just when does the found object become a created tool?

     And fire of course.  This is definitely a big step.  Fire has so much potential for warmth, cooking, defense, even habitat modification that its immense importance cannot be denied.  Was this the great step?  When we overwhelmed our natural fear of fire and embraced it?  When we could see in the dark?  Is this the essential development?

     We are learning more and more just how important our attitude is and it has much more effect on what happens than we ever believed.  In hospitals patients with the right attitude survive better than those who don’t.  This falls in line with the power of positive thinking.  This works, it seems and even can effect the situation you’re in.  From my reading I’m beginning to think that attitude is one of the most, if not the most, important factors in human development and the tipping point when we changed from prey to predator is mostly this:  we changed our minds.

     Imagine the psychological impact.  We are slight hominids grubbing for plant food and the occasional bug or mouse and then we are hunters, roaming the land becoming feared by all other prey animals and learning to defeat other predators, our great enemies for all of our history.  Think how this would change, not just the physical attributes of our lives, but our characters.   No longer do we slink, terrified, through the world scraping by, but now we stalk the planet taking what we need from our fellow creatures.  We are hunters, not the hunted.

     People have long said that getting fire meant we could cook meat and make it more digestable and a protein boost to our growing brains and this is true, but I don’t think the importance of man’s self image has been given enough credit.  

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