Thursday, March 25, 2010

And so...

Yesterday, I mentioned that there are two things that are unique to the human being, the making of tools and the teaching of their making and use.

No doubt, the first tools in common usage amongst our early forebears, were simple sticks used to probe in nests and cavities for insects and honey or stones for crushing nuts and seeds for easier consumption. From there, man began fashioning tools for specific purposes. An example from my own yard that I have shown before in the blog is in the photo below. This stone is only roughly shaped, and was likely discarded when its user moved on to a new location. This is kind of like the simple jig I might make in the wood shop to make a task easier, safer or more precise and which is then discarded when the task is complete.

This particular stone, though roughly shaped, displays an incredibly sophisticated understanding of the material from which it is made. In order to shape this type of chert(a vastly inferior form of flint) into a desired shape to fit the hand requires expertise well beyond that of modern makers. So this stone, being roughly shaped, still expresses triumph of skill in the manipulation of material.

With the arrival of tool making our forebears began teaching both the making and using of tools. Thus pedagogy, conscious imparting of skill from one person to another most likely arose, not through the use of voice, but through demonstration... "Hey watch this." And so, in the making and using of tools is recorded the rise of man as the dominant species on the planet Earth, from the first crafted stone tools to the most modern computer. Whether or not we will ever deserve be called wise is dependent on whether or not we can move from mere dominance of the planet to a position of caring stewardship of all species.

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