Monday, May 7, 2012

Do tools and weapons make us human?


Do weapons and tool use make us human?
I am currently watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. Call it research for what life will be like in the early days of the High Frontier. In particular, I am interested in the spaceships. Pretty much for film and television, it is 2001: A Space Odyssey and StarCops if you are interested in attempts to make the early High Frontier space vehicles realistic.

Nevertheless, I do find some things disturbing about 2001.

One of which is the thought that the movie implies that it is tool and weapon use that make us human. No monkey has ever used a tool or thought of beating his neighbor with a stick--unless there was a monolith involved.

I guess it is the fact that I have watched too many animal shows where animals are using tools or using their built-in weapons to fight with one another or kill a tasty meal of rich protein. Either that or it is the current semester of Chinese Philosophy and Religion that has warped my brain.

Early man did not survive because of tool use; they survived because they figured out how to keep a fire burning. If anything separates us from the animals, it is the use of fire. Other animals have weapons, and make a form of war on others; other animals use tools. Only mankind has harnessed fire.

1 comment:

The Scribbler said...

On the one hand, I really do love that movie. The first time I saw it was a year after it came out. I was ten. I've seen it countless times. In my youth there was a theater in our home town that had a midnight showing every Friday night. I used to take friends to go see it on acid.

On the other hand, it is pretty lame to equate evolving with learning how to kick ass. But it's still one of the high points of 20th century cinema.