The early differentiator: tools set apart man from animal

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art”  
Leonardo da Vinci

This article has been paraphrased from Anton Pannekoek's Anthropogenesis: A Study
of the Origin of Man,

There are several things that separate us from the animals. Anthropological studies show that all the living creatures—except the plants—possess some power of mental faculty in varying degrees but we have the unique power of abstract thinking. Also we have the command of speech and live in a developed, organised society (unlike the irregular animal groups.) Another main characteristic is our flair for making and using tools in as many ways and purposes as possible. Benjamin Franklin, the literal jack of all trade and master of everything, said we are toolmaking animal.
Making a difference: We have a flair for making and
using tools in as many ways and purposes as possible

How has this talent set us apart from animals? In our childhood days we wondered how the sparrows use tweaks and leaves to build their nests. Nature and wild life-related TV channels broadcast programmes on how monkeys use sticks and stones. That is, animals also draw on tools but their materials are naturally available. However, we can make tools and creating them requires a planning and designing process i.e., there is a call for the conscious mind.

Now the concept of organon, meaning tool or organwhich has been applied from the Greek word used by Aristotle’s followers for his collection of works on logicemerges. We and other animals make apply tools to carry out the essential tasks of life, but the basic difference is that the organs, which are attached to the animals’ bodies, are their tools while the tools are our organs, separated from our body. As such in human society we have, as noted above, an organised system where there is a shared knowledge and we have the idea of replacement: When a tool becomes broken or useless, we can trade it for another one, which is not the case in animal kingdom as their meagrely organs cannot be substituted. With a highly developed mind compared to them, we can also anticipate the action of our tools.       

Further reading
  • Charles Bell, The hand, its mechanism and vital endowments as evincing design, 1837
  • Evelyn Reed, New Light on the Origins of Man, 1963

Food for thought

Purple haze?
We are an anthropological paradise to the omniscient experts and scholars from the mainland. It is an irrefutable fact that the region comprises several tribes of all hues and colours, and it is even more true that there are also cultures that are rich, indigenous and authentic. However, the view is seemingly different to their watchful eyes.  

Despite the dynamics that are shaping up the people and their lives, we are seen unfortunately as a group of people inside the pages of their unfinished theses. Morons as they are, but time is changing and so is the very notion of tribe. 

The preconceptions are found not only in this field but the sheer ignorance is clearly visible when there is any kind of conflict between us and them. For that matter, we were not carved out of Assam.



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