NO SISYPHUS: OF WOLVES, NEANDERTHALS, TECH & HOPE AS MOST HUMAN
Does it matter for tomorrow’s philosophy what Neanderthals aspired to do and succeeded to do, 100,000 years ago? Yes. Why? Because it helps us figuring out the human condition, our condition.
We are, in particular, trying to make intelligent, cooperative machines to serve us, just as Neanderthals artificially selected wolves into kind beings to serve us.
Paleontology, is a field where knowledge is progressing by leaps, bonds, and revolutions. To wit, the recent discovery in Ethiopia, of a different species of hominid contemporary of the famous “Lucy” (Australopithecus Afarensis). That new hominid is (more) in the direct line of Homo… And is associated to the oldest tools ever found (3.3 million years old).
To come back to the wolf domestication story: it seems, to me, to say much more, very clearly. First, wolf domestication is part of technologization (a neologism). Dogs were the science fiction robots of new tech, 100,000 years ago.
Second, it is striking that dogs were evolved, by artificial selection, from EUROPEAN wolves. This has momentous philosophical consequences on the human condition.
The chronology is clear. The Goyet dog (at least 31,000 years old, maybe 36,000 years) was clearly very evolved, artificially, away from the original EUROPEAN wolves (it was very physiologically different from a wolf).
Striking conclusion? The Goyet dog had to have come from a very old linage. Wolves were domesticated by European Neanderthals (there were Neanderthals, and African wolves, in Africa… little known facts).
So we are left pondering the Neanderthals, symbolic of humanity’s fate. Neanderthals were the first to burn coal (73,000 years ago, in present-day France). this is when we started to reach for the stars…
The oldest art found now seems to go way back to Homo Erectus.
Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis was, apparently, mentally superior: why did other human subspecies not domesticate their local wolves? How could that be? From the fact Neanderthals lived in the hardest, subarctic environment. Technology enabled them to do so. Technology was not just pants and coal, it was also dogs. Thus need forced excellence. More hardships led to more humanity!
When the going gets tough, the tough gets techie. By opting for dogs and coal, 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals showed us the way.
If Neanderthals were so superior, how come that they disappeared? Well, first they did not really disappear: Neanderthal genes are found all the way to the southern tip of Africa (!).
Secondly, I have engineered a sophisticate Neanderthal sort-of-disappearance theory, which is purely mathematical, considering how the smaller body masses of Homo SS from Africa would advantage their reproduction during climate change (when it’s known Neanderthals got swamped by Homo SS).
Details are found in:
So what of the myth of Sisyphus?
Maybe it applied to Camus. Some people are their private hells. However, Sisyphus does not apply to the human condition in general, something stronger than ever, four million years after setting itself on its journey of hope.
And now for Paul Handover’s essay!
My relationship with Pharaoh has echoes of much earlier times.
This is a post that was originally published by Learning from Dogs back in July 2012!
It seemed so fitting to repost it this week. Not only in recognition of my dear Pharaoh’s birthday yesterday, but also in recognition of all the dogs and their loving human companions since time immemorial. What magnificent creatures they are.
The woof at the Door.
The grandeur of the ancient relationship between dog and man.
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a fascinating article that had been published in American Scientist magazine (online version) written by Professor Pat Shipman. The article provided the background and evidence to support the proposition that dogs may have been man’s best friend for thousands of years longer than we realized.
Very quickly I came across Pat Shipman’s website and learnt that this is one clever lady…
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