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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


 Part V: Is Man An Animal?

Chapter 5

Man the Culture Maker

     A FEW years ago, it was held that in the assessment of the fossil remains of man-like forms, the crucial question to ask was, Did these creatures use tools or weapons? The use of such artifacts was a kind of cultural Rubicon. If the answer was Yes, the fossils were said to be human regardless of the morphology. The crucial test in the minds of many physical and social anthropologists was a cultural one, because it was held that man was the only culture-creating animal, and tools and weapons are cultural artifacts.
     Now, in this context, Culture is defined as "learned behaviour" by contrast with the patterned behaviour of animals in their natural state, which is instinctive. This definition breaks down where birds have learned, for example, to open milk bottles � as they are still doing in England � which is clearly not instinctive behaviour. But the definition is still essentially correct. Ruth Benedict pointed out that an ant colony reduced to a few members would automatically reconstruct its whole system of patterned behaviour with virtually no loss, whereas the human race, similarly reduced, would lose 99 percent of its culture. For ant behaviour is instinctive, whereas human behaviour is learned.
(121) Let us look at some of these elements of culture which have been considered diagnostic of true humanness and see to what extent these are really determinative.

Man the Toolmaker

     Early in the history of anthropology it had been claimed that the use of tools was limited to Homo sapiens, but it soon became increasingly apparent that a remarkable number of animals also used tools of one kind or another, both of stone and of wood. It had been known for a long time that birds used sticks to pry out insects in cracks in

121 Benedict, Ruth, Patterns of Culture, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1958, p.12.

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wood, but since birds were never candidates as precursors of man, the fact was not considered to conflict with proposed markers of humanness. One of Darwin's finches, for example, uses cactus spines to pick out insects in crevices in tree trunks. (122) It is also known that the burrowing wasp, Ammophila, uses a small pebble as a hammer to pound down the soil over its nest of eggs. (123) But insects are not precursors of man either. More recently, an Egyptian vulture, Neophron percnopterus, has been observed to break open ostrich eggs by throwing a stone held in its beak at the egg shell. (124) The bird's aim is quite good.
     But in some mammals even more complex tool-using has been observed. For example, floating on its back in the water, a sea otter will place a slab of rock fifteen or twenty cm. in diameter, collected from the sea floor, on its chest. Then, holding a small mollusk shell in both forepaws, it repeatedly strikes it on the stone with full swings until it is able to break it open.
(125) Polar bears apparently have been reported using quite large stones or blocks of ice as weapons. According to Reclus, in an early issue of Nature (1883), J. Rae reported seeing a polar bear Iying in wait on an elevated point for an unsuspecting walrus or sea calf gambolling on the beach immediately below. When one came within range, the polar bear hit it on the head by aiming his weapon very skillfully. (126) Coming a little closer to man, morphologically speaking, baboons are known to use natural implements such as stones or sticks which happen to be at hand. (127)
     It is therefore quite possible, for example, that the Australopithecines with whose fossil remains there was evidence of stone tools or weapons of a simple design, usually referred to as

122. Darwin's finches: David Lack, "Darwin's Finches," Scientific American, April, 1953, p.68.
123. Burrowing wasps: Kenneth P. Oakley, "Skill as a Human Possession" in A History of Technology, edited by Charles Singer, E. J. Holmyard, A. R. Hall, Oxford University Press, 1954, vol.1, p.2.
124. Vultures: Jane & Hugo van Lawick-Goodall, "Use of Tools by Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percuepterus," Nature, Dec. 24, 1966, p.1468.
125. Sea-otter: Kenneth P. Oakley, "Skill as a Human Possession" in A History of Technology, edited by Charles Singer, E. J. Holmyard, A. R. Hall, Oxford University Press, 1954, vol.1, p.5.
126. Polar bears: Elie Reclus, Primitive Folk: Studies in Comparative Ethnology,,Contemporary Science Series, Scott, London, no date, p.17.
127 Baboons: on this see panel discussion on "Physical Anthropology and the Biological Basis of Human Behaviour," in An Appraisal of Anthropology Today, edited by Sol Tax and Charles Callender, University of Chicago Press, 1953, p.263. An excellent study has been published by Philip Street, Animal Weapons, MacGibbon and Kee, London, 1971. See also on this, K. R. L. Hall, "Tool Using Performances as Indicators of Behavioural Adaptability," in Human Evolution, edited by N. Korn and F. Thompson, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1967, p.128. Wilbert H. Rusch ("Human Fossils," in Rock Strata and the Bible Record, edited by Paul A. Zimmerman, Concordia, St. Louis, 1970, p.149) mentions that chimpanzees may sometimes crush leaves and use them as a sponge to soak up water from a cavity. It has recently been argued that chimpanzees in the wild may actually manufacture tools. But R. L. Holloway held that "the fashioning of termiting sticks and other reported tool-making activities on the part of chimpanzees do not represent the imposition of arbitrary forms on the environment," by which is meant actual creation of tools out of raw materials (see "Culture: A Human Domain," Current Anthropology, vol.10, 1969, p.395-407).

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"pebble-tools," could have been using these as baboons use stones and quite by chance have fractured them so that they appear to have been consciously worked whereas in fact the working of them might have been accidental. On the other hand, it is also possible that these associated simple weapons were manufactured deliberately by hunters for whom the Australopithecines were the prey. Man may have killed these apes for food or in self-defense, or in taking over their territory.
     So the mere employment of tools is not decisive. If birds by experience learn to use the right kind of sharp instrument to flush out insects, deliberately choosing this piece of wood and rejecting some other piece that is too large, it is hard to see why an intelligent ape might not also choose a piece of stone which already happened to have a cutting edge. There is also some question in the minds of anthropologists about the basis of judgment of a very simply worked flint in determining whether it has accidentally come by its form or been deliberately worked. Many of the eoliths found in France and elsewhere by such early archaeologists as Lartet and others were later rejected as purely accidental, though to a predisposed eye they appeared convincing enough.
     So the issue has now been refined a little, and humanness is not considered to be established merely by the presence of tools, but only by determining whether the tools are genuinely man-made. But there are times when this is very difficult to do. Of course, tools with symmetry or complex working are almost certainly man-made and not the work of other primates below man. But, so equivocal can very simple tools be in this regard that some authorities would attach very little significance to them unless there is also evidence of fire. Thus the search is made for other lasting evidences of the presence of man, such as charred remains that signify the use of fire. Coon held that "the use of fire is the only open-and-shut difference between man and all other animals."
(129) And there seemed little likelihood of this being disputed.

Man the Firemaker

     The use of the evidence of fire as proof of the presence of man is 

128. Lartet: see A. S. Barnes in American Anthropologist, vol.41, 1939, p.99; and more recently, Marcellin Boule and Henri V. Vallois, Fossil Man, translated by M. Bullock, Dryden Press, New York, 1957, pp.95-109, for a discussion. At the time when the issue was a very live one, a paper entitled "Eolithic Implements " illustrated with a number of plates (some even in colour), was presented by R. A. Bullen, which appeared in Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol.33, 1901, p.191-225.
129. Coon, C. S., The Story of Man, Knopf Press, New York, 1962, p.63. 

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not really confused by the fact that we know now that animals may use fire just as they use tools. For example, apes may go to a human hearth after its native maker has left it and warm themselves by it. (130) Whether any ape has ever thought to poke the fire to improve its heat output, is a moot question. Negatively speaking, we do not have any record of a dog, lying beside the fire in an English home, getting up and putting another log on it to maintain it. And it seems even safer to say that no animal ever deliberately lit a fire to keep warm by. It seems clear, therefore, that the presence of a hearth is absolute evidence of the presence of true man.
     Nevertheless, the absence of any evidence of fire is not unequivocal evidence of the absence of man, since some primitive people, even in recent times, apparently never learned or had forgotten how to make fire for themselves. According to Radcliffe Brown, the Andaman Islanders did not make fire when he studied them between 1906 and 1908,
(131) and somewhat more recently Patrick Putnam around 1940 found that the Pygmies of the Ituri Forest could not make fire for themselves. (132) Almost certainly man alone makes fire, though man is not alone in using fire.

Man the Speechmaker

      We turn, therefore, to another aspect of culture which is considered to be diagnostic, but even this proves to have its limitations for prehistory. This is the use of language; and as Herskovits rightly observed, "Language (is) the vehicle of culture." (133) One can nicely juxtapose two observations by well-known authors here. Von Humboldt wrote, "Man is man only by means of speech, but in order to invent speech he must be man already." (134) One may couple this with the following statement by A. L. Kroeber: "Culture, then, began when speech was present, and from then on the enrichment of each meant the further development of the other." (135) While some people use only the most primitive of tools which, if found in isolation, would barely be recognized as such, and while some whole tribes lack the ability to make fire and must continue without it

130. Greene, John C., The Death of Adam, Iowa State University Press, 1959, p.180.
131. Radcliffe Brown: quoted by Ashley Montagu, Man: His First Million Years, Mentor Books, New York, 1958, p.158.
132. Patrick Putnam: quoted by C. S. Coon, A Reader in General Anthropology, Holt, New York, 1948, p.327.
133. Herskovits, Melville, Man and His Works, Knopf, New York, 1950, p.440 ff.
134. W. von Humholdt: quoted by Charles Lyell, The Antiquity of Man, 4th edition, 1873, p.518.
135. Kroeber, A. L., Anthropology, Harcourt & Brace, New York, 1948, p.225. 

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until they can obtain it from some neighbour, no tribe or people has ever been known which did not have a language. And, as it turns out, often the more primitive the tribe, the more complex the language. (136) As a matter of fact, in the light of present knowledge, it seems that language more often proceeds from the complex to the simple and not in the reverse direction. (137) Thus we can say unequivocally that any creature that uses speech to converse is clearly a human being.
     But this raises two open questions. The first is, Do animals actually have language, which we have not recognized because we don't happen to speak in the same way? Or to put it in another way, Is speaking a uniquely human faculty? The second question is whether there is any way in which we could tell for certain whether a particular fossil cranium belonged to a speaking creature or a dumb one. Unless we can tell this, the use of speech diagnostically for true man doesn't help us in dealing with prehistory.
     When Broca in 1865 discovered, as a result of war wounds, that damage in a specific area of the brain results in disturbance of speech, he "localized" a speech area in the brain. As a consequence, it was hoped that an endo-cranial cast of sufficient refinement should provide evidence of the ability to speak or otherwise on the assumption that the impression would adequately reflect the formal configuration of the brain itself and thereby allow accurate assessment of its potential by indicating the full development of this area. There was confidence that such studies would give some evidence of the owner's powers of speech. Added to this, it was believed that a careful analysis of the inside of the jaw should provide further confirmation of the adequacy and refinement of the tongue muscles used in speaking. Between the two, it was felt that fairly firm statements could be made: "This individual probably had the power of speech, but this individual did not." Analysis of many of the more famous fossil remains of early man or proto-man was at once undertaken along these lines, and whether Neanderthal Man or Cro-Magnon Man could speak or not was energetically discussed at the time.
     For example, the absence of a little process of bone in the middle

136. A. L. Kroeber remarks in this connection, "Dictionaries compiled by missionaries or philologists of languages previously unwritten run to surprising figures. Thus the number of words recorded in Klamath, the speech of a culturally rude American Indian tribe, is 7,000; in Navaho, 11,000; in Zulu, 17,000; in Dakota, 19,000; in Maya, 20,000; in Nahuatl, 27,000. It may safely be estimated that every existing language, no matter how backward its speakers are in their general civilization, possesses a vocabulary of at least 5,000 to 10,000 words. Kroeber then adds this note(!): "Jesperson, who allows 20,000 words to Shakespeare, and 8,000 to Milton, cites 26,000 as the vocabulary of Swedish peasants" (Anthropology, Harcourt & Brace, New York, 1948, p.225)
137. Kluckholm, Clyde, Mirror for Man, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1949, p.148, 149.

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 of the lower jaw to which some of the muscles of the tongue are attached was believed to prove that the Canstadt Race could not speak. Cro-Magnon Man, however, was more advanced since he had this little process and therefore could. We were taught this in university courses in the early 1930s. It seemed to reinforce the validity of the usual lineup of primitive men from ape-like to Homo sapiens. What we, as students, did not know at that time was that the whole idea had long since been shown to be without foundation. By 1888, Sir William Dawson of McGill University had already shown the fallacy of this argument. After consultation with Wesley Mills, Professor of Anatomy in that university, he appended this note at the appropriate place in one of his works dealing with early man: (138)

     Though the muscles attached to the genial tubercles (the Genio-hyoid and Genio-hyo-glossi) are the most important in the greater movements of the tongue as when it is protruded from the mouth, yet many minor movements, such as those concerned in speech, are possible in the absence of the functional activities of these muscles.
     The clearest evidence that the tongue itself is neither the sole organ of speech nor even an essential organ of speech, is derived from the fact that after the removal of the tongue, as complete as may be, speech is so far possible as to be intelligible though not perfect, the dentals especially being indistinct; yet there is good utterance.
     I myself, many years ago, followed a case of excision of the tongue, and was surprised at the degree of perfection of utterance attained even in a few weeks after the operation.
     A comparison of even a few lower jaws of man shows that these genial tubercles vary very much in size, in some cases being but indifferently marked. . . . So that, altogether, I should myself hesitate to infer that men in whom these tubercles were absent had been without the power of speech. . . .

     Today, the point is seldom, if ever, discussed. The argument simply has died for lack of evidence. Even at the time of our course of lectures, Wilson D. Wallis was reiterating that "the anatomist cannot tell from an examination of the skull of modern man whether or not the possessor had speech; much less from fossil skulls." (139) Or more recently, in 1948, Weidenreich wrote: (140)

     The claim of paleo-anthropologists to the effect that Neanderthal or Peking Man was right handed or left handed, was able to speak, or write, or could only stammer, all deduced from shallower and narrower, or deeper and broader impressions on the inside of the brain case, have no scientific basis. . . .  

138. Dawson, Sir William, Modern Science in Bible Land, Dawson and Brothers, Montreal, 1888, p.225, footnote.
139. Wallis, Wilson D., "The Structure of Prehistoric Man," in The Making of Man, edited by V. F. Calverton, Modern Library, Random House, New York, 1931, p.65.
140. Weidenreich, Franz, "The Human Brain in the Light of Its Phylogenetic Devlopment", Scientific Monthly, Aug., 1948, p.107. 

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     Furthermore, it is now known that man-like apes such as the chimpanzee are not prevented from speaking because they lack the necessary tongue muscles. They ought to be able to speak, if it is merely a matter of these particular muscles. As early as 1916, W. H. Furness, in attempting to teach articulate speech to both the orangutan and chimpanzee, observed, "I found that the first difficulty to be overcome is their lack of use of lips and tongue in making their emotional cries. (141)
     Now, there are several things that must be said to qualify this observation And the crucial importance of speech for man requires that we look at the subject a little more carefully. In the first place, Furness would be the first to agree that one cannot speak usefully of "teaching articulate speech" in this context. For thus far the most elegant and imaginative programs have only reinforced at every turn the fact that non-human primates do not and probably cannot speak. They can communicate in remarkable ways, as we shall see, but the power of speech is not, apparently, within their reach. They are dependent upon the use of signs, just as other animals have elaborate means of communication by the use of signs, the only difference with these primates being that they can evidently be taught to use a large number of signs deliberately � which they would never use in their own natural environment � in order to communicate with man. But they do not speak, apparently because they cannot speak. Let us look at the evidence.
     A number of attempts have been made over the past forty years to bring up a chimpanzee from infancy in a home environment, treating it precisely as though it were a member of the family, subjecting it to the same disciplines as other children, the same encouragements, and as far as possible the same stimuli. Every attempt was made to induce speech as is normally made to induce speech in a human child. The best known of these experiments were those made first by the Kelloggs
(142) (1933), by the Hayeses (143) (1951), by the Gardners (144) (1967), and finally by Premack (145) in 1969.
     The Kelloggs named their chimpanzee Gua. Essentially, for our  

141. Furness, W. H., "Observations on the Mentality of Chimpanzee and Orangutan," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol.55, 1916, p.281-284. On lip form see E. H. Lenneberg, Biological Foundations of Language, Wiley, New York, 1967, especially pp.37-52.
142. Kellogg, W. N., and L. A. Kellogg, The Ape and the Child: A Study in Environmental Influence on Early Behavior, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1933, re-issued by Hafner.
143. Hayes, K. J., and Hayes, C., The Ape in Our House, Harper, New York, 1951.
144. Gardner, R. A., and B. T. Gardner, reported in "Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee," in Science, vol.165, 1969, p.664-672.
145. Premack, David, "Language in Chimpanzee?" Science, vol.172, 1971, p.808�822.

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purposes in this Paper, their findings may be summed up by saying first that although in the wild and when domesticated the chimpanzee may be very vocal and give expression to a number of emotional cries when angry, excited, or in need, it is a remarkably silent animal otherwise. In an experimentally controlled environment in which the home-raised chimpanzee is given the same linguistic and social advantages as a human baby, the chimpanzee displays no evidence of vocal imitation. Despite its generally high level of imitative behaviour, it never spontaneously copies or reproduces human word sounds. W. N. Kellogg noted that neither in their own previous experiments, nor in those undertaken by R. M. Finch, nor in those undertaken by N. Kohts (Moscow), was there the slightest evidence of any attempt on the part of these animals to imitate speech or to reproduce any human vocalizations: (146)

     Moreover, no ape has ever been known to go through the long period of babbling and prattling which, in the human baby, seems to be the necessary prerequisite to the subsequent articulation of word sounds. Vocalized play of this sort was absent in (our) chimp, who made no sounds "without some definite provocation which in most cases was obviously of an emotional character."

     The end result of the Kelloggs' experiment was that they succeeded in getting Gua to signal to them by sign language what she wanted. For example, pushing away her cup meant "enough;" holding the genitalia meant the need to go to the toilet; biting or chewing at the. clothes or the fingers of the experimenter meant "hungry;" removing the bib from her neck meant "finished eating;" hanging on the hand of the experimenter meant "swing me;" and so forth. Of speech, that is, the use of words for communication, there was no evidence whatever.
     The Hayeses had better success. They were able to teach their chimpanzee, Vicki, to say mamma by manipulating her lips as she said ah. It took a long while to achieve this and she still persisted m putting her own forefinger on her upper lip. Later the words papa, cup, and possibly up were added to her repertoire. In 1916 Furness had, by a similar means, succeeded in training an ape (this time an orangutan) to say papa and cup, also by manipulating the lips.
     The facial mobility of man has often been remarked upon. It is quite tremendous. Few animals can alter their features except to snarl. Chimpanzees have considerable facial expression, but appearances may be deceiving. What looks like a smile may not indicate

146. Kellogg, W. N., "Communication and Language in the Home-Raised Chimpanzee", Science, vol.162, 1968, p.424.

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pleasure at all. At any rate, the effect of the muscles in the chimpanzee face may seem to be similar to man's, but the functions of these muscles are actually quite different. (147) The lack of adequate control of lip movement evidently contributes to the chimpanzee's inability to mimic the sound of words.
     Kellogg summed up his impression of the work of the Hayeses by saying:

     The most important finding of the Hayeses was perhaps not that their chimp could enunciate a few human sounds. It lay rather in the discovery that these sound patterns were extremely hard for the ape to master, that they never came naturally or easily, and that she had trouble afterwards in keeping the patterns straight.

     Of their own experiments, Kellogg concluded that the chimpanzee could respond correctly to a number of simple commands in spoken human language and achieved this slightly ahead of a child of the same age. But having done this, by the end of the first three years the chimpanzee seemed to have reached its limit of learning capacity, Just at a time when the child, which had been its companion began to forge ahead at a tremendous speed. These simple commands were such as the following: "no, no," "come here," "close the door, blow the horn," "don't put that in your mouth," "go to daddy, go to mamma," "go to Donald," and so on.
     Two important conclusions emerge: first, neither Gua nor Vicki learned to speak in the ordinary sense (Vicki's four words were not really being used as words), and secondly, the ape's mind can clearly discriminate the intent of sentences in which the succession of sounds is distinguishable and will respond to them � such as go to daddy mamma, or Donald. But understanding, not reproduction, is the limit of achievement. A horse or a dog will also respond to commands.
     The experiments of the Gardners were much more sophisticated and clearly gained a great deal from the experiments of their predecessors, the Kelloggs and the Hayeses. In their report in Science

147. Weinert, H., in An Appraisal of Anthropology Today (edited by Sol Tax and Charles Callender, University of Chicago Press, 1953) p.25. See also William Howells, Mankind So Far, Doubleday, New York, 1944, p.79. R. J .Andrew has a very helpful paper on this subject entitled, "Evolution of Facial Expression." His title is odd in a way because what he succeeds in doing, to my mind, is demonstrating clearly that "facial expression" in man, even when it approximates quite closely to that of apes or monkeys, conveys a completely different message and is an expression of entirely different inner feeling. Andrew's paper carries the blurbs "Many human expressions can be traced back to reflex responses in primitive primates and insectivores." But this is surely presumption. If muscles serve an absolutely different function in so far as, in his own showing, Andrew traces the human smile (an expression of good will) to the animal's snarl (a preparation for battle), can one properly speak of causal connections at all? ["Evolution of Facial Expression", Science, vol.142, 1963, p.1034f]
148. Kellogg, W. N., "Communication and Language in the Home-Raised Chimpanzee", Science, vol.162, 1968, p.424. 

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they pointed out that although the Hayeses spared no effort to teach Vicki to make speech sounds, she nevertheless succeeded in a period of six years only in learning four that approximated English words. They, too, noted that while the vocal apparatus of the chimpanzee is very different from that of man, the vocal behaviour of the chimpanzee is even more so: (149)

     Chimpanzees do make many different sounds, but generally vocalization occurs in situations of high excitement and tends to be specific to the exciting situation. Undisturbed, chimpanzees are usually silent.

     The close tie between vocalization (in the sense of giving voice) and emotion is highly significant in dealing with the whole problem of the origin of speech in man. The subject has been discussed in summary fashion in another Doorway Paper, (150) to which the reader should refer for a more extended bibliography. But the point at issue here is that linguists who have concerned themselves with the problem of the origin of speech agree upon this fact, that emotional cries are not the foundation of man's speaking capacity, since emotion has precisely the opposite effect. It tends rather to reduce him to a state of speechlessness. The emotional exclamations, oh, ah, etc., are involuntary (except when acted, of course), and they have the characteristic brevity of all emotional cries. Cries like, Help! are equally monosyllabic. Cries such as these do not constitute speech: they are formalized signs of emotional stress. In emotional language we usually use short words. The feelings of the man who says to a girl "I love you" are easily distinguished from those of the man who says, "I have a tremendous admiration for you." The longer the word, the less its emotional content as a rule; and the greater its emotional content, the less does it reflect the true nature of speech as a means of communication, particularly the communication of ideas. Thus the very fact that these non-human primates (which seem so responsive in other ways) nevertheless do not learn to speak, seems to be closely related to the fact that vocalization is for them an expression of emotion, not of thought.
     For this reason, the Gardners adopted the very sensible plan of using something akin to deaf and dumb language which involves no vocalization at all but the use of signs. The results of their experiment fully justify this approach. Their experimental animal, whom they called Washoe, proved herself an apt pupil. Within sixteen months, she had learned nineteen signs reliably, with five more in process. By 

149. Gardner, R. A. and B. T. Gardner, "Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee," Science, vol.165, 1969, p.664 .
150. Custance, Arthur, "Who Taught Adam to Speak?" Part VI in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway Papers Series.

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the end of twenty-two months, she understood and used twenty-eight signs in one day, out of a total of thirty-four which she had learned. By the time she was four years old, she had been taught to make reliable responses to more than eighty different signs, though it is not clear whether she actually used all these signs herself. Not only did she make use of signs, but she was able to transfer their value. For example, the sign for "open" she could apply to the unlocking of a cupboard and then to the unlocking of doors, and finally to the idea of turning the ignition key in the car. Occasionally she "confused" the signs a little, like flower with odour, and dog with barking. But, as the Gardners put is, "Her signs do not remain specific to their original referents but are transferred spontaneously to new referents." (151)
     While I think that we are forced by these results to recognize that part of our problem in accurately assessing the animal mind lies in our inadequate means of communication with them, we must not -- for all our surprise � over-estimate the animal mind nor under-estimate the fundamental difference between animal mind and human mind. In Washoe's case the response was always situational. The signs that were adopted and used by Washoe had to do with, and were used in connection with, personal needs, not with the needs of others. Nor were they used in connection with unrealities, abstract concepts, things merely of interest for conversation, hypothetical things. Conceptual language was not involved. Nor were the signs structured consistently into sentences in such a way as to indicate an awareness of grammatical principles. A child becomes aware of grammar by some unconscious process, and untaught. One can observe this in delightful ways in children, if one is careful. Last summer a little friend of ours, who is about three years old, was talking to me as I climbed out of my car, and suddenly noticed a dead grasshopper at his feet. He looked at it for a moment, and then he said reflectively, "Somebody deaded it." He had learned the difference in meaning between an adjective and a verb, between "dead" and "deaded." He created the verb for himself, quite correctly � though uncommonly. There is no doubt that no one had taught him to do this.
     In his review of E. H. Lenneberg's Biological Foundations of Language E. A. Weinstein notes that in children there is a normal order of the development of vocalization from crying to cooing, and then to babbling.
(152) Single words appear between the ages of twelve to eighteen months, followed by two-word combinations "which are

151. Gardner, R. A. and B. T. Gardner, "Teaching Sign Language to a Chimpanzee," Science, vol.165, 1969, p.671.
152. Weinstein, E. A., reviewing E. H. Lenneberg, Biological Foundations, Science, vol.156, 1967, p.1585.

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not random compositions, but constitute a primitive subject predicate organization. They are not imitations of adult speech, but indicate that certain rules of grammar have been acquired." Even in brain-injured, deaf, and otherwise handicapped children, though the rate of language learning is slowed down, nevertheless the same order obtains.
     In other words, Washoe never put her signs together to reconstruct a sentence. Neither did she invent words. There was no grammar involved. Yet it is grammar that converts a series of sounds into a form of speech. Furthermore, the use of signs was always immediately contingent upon circumstance. There was no delay. Man can sit and think over a situation, take it apart, analyze it into components each of which he can label separately, and then he can reconstitute reality and give it expression verbally in a sentence in which the very organization of the components conveys his understanding. As the Gardners put it, in Washoe's case, there was no "disengagement from the immediate context."
     The Gardners achieved their success by adopting a means of communication which did not require Washoe to speak, that is, to attempt the vocalization of words. In commenting on their work, I think David McNeil of the University of Chicago summed things up very nicely when he said:

     The Gardner's ape is fascinating, but the few examples of her "speech" that I have seen appear to be quite different from the speech of young children. The structural arrangement, if there is any, looks unlike anything that occurs in the development of language.

     Using the same principle of signs developed by the Gardners, a still more sophisticated series of experiments was conducted by David Premack and reported under the title, "Language in Chimpanzee?" (154) Premack's program was carried out with an African-born female chimpanzee whom he named Sarah. She was six years old when the study began, a fact which suggests that it may not be altogether true that man's greater learning capacity is due to the much longer period during which man is anatomically and physiologically still plastic, although the experience of the Kelloggs did suggest that some measure of "fixity" began to take place in their subject at about three years of age.
     Premack's experiments seem to have been even more elaborate than those of his predecessors'. In some ways they force us to credit

153. David McNeil: in a discussion following his paper "Empiricist and nativist theories of language: George Berkeley and Samuel Bailey in the 20th century" at the Alpbach Symposium, in Beyond Reductionism, edited by Arthur Koestler and J. N. Smythies, Hutchinson, London, 1969, p.307.
154. Premack, David, "Lamguage in Chimpanzee?" Science, vol.172, 1971, p.808-822. 

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the chimpanzee's mind with even greater potential for communication by such means, because there was evidence of the ability to understand at least something of the meaning of sentence structure, the concept of class relative to objects, the meaning of the copula (is), of pluralization, of logical connections (if � then), of the conjunction "and" and in a rudimentary way the meaning of symbolization. With respect to this last, Premack rightly asks the question whether it is possible to teach an organism the meaning of symbolization if it does not already symbolize in its own mind. He felt that the training procedures he used were not teaching symbolization, but must have been utilizing a capacity the animal already possessed. Who knows, therefore, what really goes on in the mind of such an animal?
     Several of his findings confirm, or seem to me to confirm, previous observations. For example, Premack could not induce Sarah to structure a sentence which was directed altruistically, unless he rewarded her very specifically.
(155) Thus she would put down the symbols in the right order for, say, "Mary give Sarah apple," but she was reluctant to put down, "Mary give Gussie [another person familiar to Sarah] apple." She would only do it when she was rewarded with a tidbit she preferred in exchange for the right answer. She could not be sufficiently motivated by a situation which did not reward her personally. It should not be thought, however, that in Nature animals never act altruistically. (156) They do, not only in parent-child relationships, but in fellow creature relationships.
     It should be borne in mind that Sarah still did not speak, did not verbalize. She merely manipulated plastic symbols, as a child manipulates alphabet blocks. But she did manipulate them in quite sophisticated ways.
     In a study of the vocal tract limitation of non-human primates, Philip H. Lieberman et al,
(157) concluded that the inability of apes to mimic human speech results from the inherent limitations of their vocal mechanisms. It is conceivable that they have something to say, "but they have no way of saying it. "The human speech-output 

155. Ibid., pp.808-810.
156. For examples, see Arthur Custance, "The Survival of the Unfit," Part IV in Evolution or Creation?, vol.4 in The Doorway Papaers Series.
157. Lieberman, P. H.; D. H. Klatt and W. H. Wilson, "Vocal Tract Limitations on the Vocal Repertoires of Rhesus Monkeys and Other Non-Human Primates," Science, vol.164, 1969, p.1187. Another study of the organs of speech has been published: J. Wind, On the Phylogeny and the Ontogeny of the Human Larynx: a Morphological and Functional Study, Groningen, the Netherlands, 1970. In reviewing this [Science, vol.173, 1971, p.414], R. O'Rahilly notes the author concludes that "no satisfactory explanation of speech emergence has yet been given."  

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mechanism should thus be viewed as part of man's species-specific endowment." (l58)
     Somewhere in the total constitution of man's mind, there appears to be a capacity for the use of symbols which, coupled with his appropriately designed organs of speech, allows him to manipulate his understanding of reality and to discuss it intelligibly with his own kind. It now appears, therefore, that it is man's combined capacities, capacities involving the nature of his mind and his anatomy working together which allow him to acquire and sustain speech and, through speech, to enhance his powers of understanding and communication. So he compounds the fruits of his learning and enormously multiplies his cultural wealth. Somewhere in the process of socialization, self-awareness arises and with it self-evaluation, the ability to assess and judge the actions and motives, in others and in himself.
(159) And so the way is opened for him to become, by reason of the divinely implanted spiritual component in his nature, a morally responsible creature.
     Thus although tremendous advances have been made in our understanding of the potential for communication in animals below man, the work of the Kelloggs, the Hayeses, the Gardners, and now Premack, with chimpanzees, has underscored the fact that speech, the use of the spoken word, is a unique human faculty. The means of communication between animals are much more varied, it seems, than in man, but far less pregnant with potential. Bees use a language of movement.
(160) Fishes use a chemical one. (16l) Mutual recognition between birds is based on sound as well as visual cues. (162) It has even been found recently that unborn chicks, still in their shells, communicate with each other by clicks and other vocal sounds which have been tape-recorded. (163) Bats, of course, signal to one another in   

158.On this see also G. G. Simpson (Biology and Man, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1969, p.116: "Perhaps we can at least determine when language arose by tracing the anatomical evolution of the vocal apparatus? That line is even now being followed seriously by some anatomists, but I think they are astray. A human brain in a monkey's body would probably mispronounce English words, but it would certainly produce a language" [my emphasis]. The point is well taken and underscores the fact that unless the brain is human, true language will not emerge whether the organs of speech are appropriate or not: and conversely, if the brain is human, language will emerge under the right social conditions even when the organs of speech are faulty. Even the anatomically dumb can employ language.
159. Mead, George Herbert, Mind, Self and Society, University of Chicago Press, 1948.
160. Bees: Carl von Frisch's justly famous Dance Language and Orientation of Bees has been republished in a translation by L. E. Chadwick, Harvard University Press, 1968, xiv and 566 pp.
161. Fishes: John H. Todd, "The Chemical Language of Fishes," Scientific American, May, 1971, pp.98 ff.
162. Birds: W. H. Thorpe, "Perceptual Basis for Group Organization in Social Vertebrates, Especially Birds," Nature, October 12, 1968, pp.124-128.
163. Unhatched chicks: Margaret A. Vince of Cambridge, in Britannica Book of the Year, 1971, under the heading "Biological Sciences," p.166. 

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frequencies beyond the hearing range of the human ear. So animal means of communication are varied indeed. One of the most useful collections of data on the use of signs by animals was produced by Dietrich Burkhardt, Wolfgang Schleidt, and Helmut Altner in Signals in the Animal World. (164)
     If evolution were a fact, it seems as though it must have somehow miscued by dividing the potential of living creatures in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of their developing the capacity to speak. What I have in mind is the fact that in one class of animals, the birds, we find the combination of erect posture, vocal organs which allow for song, and � even more importantly � the ability to imitate a substantial number of words and sentences � as seen in parrots and other bird species. But the ability to communicate by the use of deliberately chosen signs, such as can be acquired by some of the non-human primates, appears to be lacking. They thus have the ability to speak, but have nothing to say. By contrast, evolution has produced (supposedly) another class of animals, represented by chimpanzees, which, while they can manifestly learn to communicate with man in a sign language, are evidently not equipped anatomically for speech. They are quite unable to vocalize words as some of the birds are able to do. They thus may possibly have something to say, but can't say it. This seems like a misdirected distribution of capabilities, for we therefore have in one line of development the necessary mechanism for the sounding of words which can only be meaningless; and in an entirely different line of development the mechanism for giving meaning to words which can't be said. In short, only in man do we find these two capabilities united; along with an erect posture that makes conversation easy and natural face to face, coupled with a manipulative skill in the hands, providing a unique extension of the mind, and a means of considerable reinforcement to verbal expression.
     Although many contributory factors in the anatomy of man are obviously involved, nevertheless it seems pretty clear that the prime source of uniqueness, the seat of ultimate superiority, lies in his mind. Whether mind and brain can be related, as we have for the most part imagined them to be, does not seem to be as clearly demonstrated today as it seemed to be a few years ago. In some way, the whole man appears to be alive with man-soul. Yet it is simpler and more convenient, perhaps, for purposes of discussion to accept for the moment the idea that "mind" is at the root of it all, and by    

164. Burkhardt, Dietrich, et al., translated by Kenneth Morgan, Allen and Unwin, London,1967, 150 pages.

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putting the mind in quote marks I want to leave it as an open question whether the mind of man encompasses both his intellect and his spirit. One thing seems reasonably certain that if we allow the quality of his mind to stand as representative of his humanness, then the mind of man is not the same as the mind of an animal, and therefore he himself is not the same as an animal � despite all appearances. In part this is recognized by many writers. Years ago, Briffault observed: (165)

     Between the mental constitution of the rudest savages and that of any animal, including the anthropoids, there is a wide gap, and that gap consists of more than a difference in degree; it amounts to a difference in kind. Primarily that difference depends upon the conceptual character of human mentality.

     Conceptual character of human mentality: what does it mean? It means man's ability to create mental images which are not bound to the realities which impinge upon his senses. He can dream of things which do not yet exist: he can imagine situations which are contrary to fact. He can, indeed, tell lies usefully. The early Church Fathers recognized this as one of the special characteristics of man. They pointed out that animals cannot tell lies (though they can, of course, be deceived) and God would not tell lies. Man does. He will speak of negative numbers or of decimals � parts of numbers. He will speak of ten days which never exist at one time, or (in statistics) of the average family as being composed of 3.6 people. Thus he can do impossible things with his mind. His speech is propositional, he can discuss hypotheses and play with his ideas until he invents new things and achieves new understandings. His ability to verbalize allows him to talk about what is contrary to fact and thus often bring to pass things which enormously extend his dominion over the earth � and even beyond the earth. Some years ago in thinking about these things, Henri Bergson wrote: (166)

     The impression arises when we compare the brain of man and that of animals that the difference at first appears to be only a difference in size and complexity. But judging by function, there must be something else besides. . .  Between man and the animals the difference is no longer one of degree but of kind.

     All of history confirms this judgment. The difference is absolute, even though there are enough parallels to make it virtually impossible

165. Briffault, Robert, "Evolution of Human Species," in The Making of Man, edited by V. F. Calverton, Modern Library, Random House, New York, p.762.
166. Bergson, Henri, Creative Evolution, Modern Library, Random House, New York, 1944, pp.200, 201.

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to quantify the difference when its substance is dissected. It is the potential which really clinches the matter.


     We begin to see, therefore, something fundamentally new in man, which is not merely the result of the addition of new capacities but seems to arise from a whole new dimension that is somehow in the mind and yet not of it. The whole increasingly becomes more than merely the sum of the parts. Everything about this creature, Homo sapiens, is of a piece, each part uniquely contributing. The specialized hands and their nervous connections with an area of the brain seems designedly to be juxtaposed against the centres of speech and motor control of the tongue and voice box, and the receptive areas of hearing and seeing. There is design here, optimization of the system as a whole, not for the survival of the organism (though this is necessary), but for the elaboration of the life of the organism beyond mere survival and often, in fact, to its very endangerment.
     Compared with other creatures, man seems constantly at a disadvantage, yet he can dominate them all. Taken singly, his hearing and his seeing are less acute than theirs, his sense of taste and smell are less refined, the speed of reaction of his reflexes and the strength of his muscles cannot compare, his resistance to disease and his powers of recovery from wounds are lower, his rate of reaching maturity and independence in infancy, and even his achievement of "social wisdom" are slower � all these, individually, fall far behind the faculties, abilities, and processes in other animals. It seems, superficially, that none of these have been maximized in man relatively speaking, and some of them, important as they are to animals, seem to be almost rudimentary in him.
     Yet in some remarkable way, the total configuration of strength and weakness seem to contribute to rather than detract from his potential for greater things, for a higher position, for greater responsibility, for an entirely new kind of self-realization. His very weaknesses seem to fit him uniquely for fellowship with God.
     Now we have already considered some of these more obvious specific qualifications which contribute manifestly to his superiority. Let us now look at some of those which by contrast would superficially seem to be a handicap to him � though in point of fact, they are not. Let us examine the significance for man of his slowness in reaching physical maturity and his long dependency in childhood, the role of the male in the human family, his progressive complexification of his social relationships, his ability to achieve personal     

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individuation, the factors governing breeding in animals and in man, his dietary lack of wisdom, his susceptibility to disease and slowness in healing, his strange drive to order, arrange, and organize, and finally his willingness to sacrifice the temporal for the transcendental and his need for and capacity for redemption. In all these things, as we shall see, man stands apart by himself.    

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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