Re: USA Today - interview with Gugatkin and de Waal on animal culture

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri Jun 08 2001 - 20:53:49 BST

  • Next message: "Re: USA Today - interview with Gugatkin and de Waal on animal culture"

    Received: by id UAA15722 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Fri, 8 Jun 2001 20:57:45 +0100
    X-Originating-IP: []
    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: USA Today - interview with Gugatkin and de Waal on animal culture
    Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2001 15:53:49 -0400
    Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
    Message-ID: <>
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 08 Jun 2001 19:53:49.0358 (UTC) FILETIME=[BC4EE4E0:01C0F054]
    Precedence: bulk

    >From: <>
    >Subject: Re: USA Today - interview with Gugatkin and de Waal on animal
    >Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2001 12:49:15 -0500
    >On 8 Jun 2001, at 9:12, Scott Chase wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > >From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
    > > >Reply-To:
    > > >To: "Memetics Discussion List" <>
    > > >Subject: Re: USA Today - interview with Gugatkin and de Waal on
    > > >animal culture Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 21:18:29 -0400
    > > >
    > > >Hi Ray Recchia -
    > > >
    > > > >His and de Waal's accounts may just be persuasive enough to
    > > > >convince humans it's finally time to open the door and allow
    > > > >animals into the culture club.
    > > >
    > > >Or, perhaps, to remove "culture" from the behavior club....
    > > >
    > > >
    > > Why? What would be wrong with using the word "culture" if defined in
    > > terms of "nongenetic behavioral transmission" (see de Waal. 2001. The
    > > Ape and the Sushi Master. Basic Books. New York, p. 237). The big
    > > problem would not be in using the word "culture", but employing this
    > > term in a way that anthropocentrically places humans within a charmed
    > > circle, removed from the "lowly" animals.
    > >
    > > One problem I could see would be the casting of cultural capacity in
    > > terms of homology versus analogy. If other apes such as our chimp
    > > cousins can exhibit traces of culture it would't be much of a leap to
    > > consider something homologous underlying this, but if we attribute
    > > fish, insects or other groups phylogenetically far removed from us
    > > with culture, then we might consider if we are talking about the same
    > > phenomenon or something superficially similar that has arisen via
    > > convergence.
    > >
    > > If a sort of non-genic transmission of behavior that could have been
    > > called culture existed in the common ancestor we shared with these
    > > other groups, then homology might enter the picture. Did the stem
    > > group of the metazoans have culture? It might be less contentious to
    > > think about the stem of the human and non-human apes exhibiting
    > > something cultural. Crude tool usage by chimps makes one wonder how
    > > unique the "third chimp" (sensu Diamond) really is.
    > >
    > > With no background in anthropology or primatology, I'm just babbling
    > > forth, chewing my cud so to speak.
    > >
    >Specifically, chimps do not use tools, but manually modify
    >implements for present tasks; manually stripping branches to feed
    >on termites falls within this category. Technically (that is,
    >anthropologically) speaking, a tool is an object used to modify
    >another object (such as the rock used to knap a handaxe); no
    >nonhuman primates are known to use tools in the wild. Neither do
    >they retain implements (it was opined that they left implements at
    >a use site and returned to use them again, but this is wishful
    >hermeneutics; the Occam explanation is that they discard them
    >onsite when they are finished with them and use what is available
    >when they return), nor do they assemble toolkits composed of
    >differing and task-specific shapes. While paying attention to the
    >similarities between Homo and simians, it is important not to
    >overlook the differences. Reference: INVERSTIGATIONS INTO
    >Duc Thao, D. Reidel 1984.
    Differences in kind or degree? Is there a danger of excluding chimp
    implement usage by definition from being tool usage just as culture can be
    excluded in the chimp realm via the same anthropocentrically biased views?
    What about the implements that de Waal discusses in _The Ape and the Sushi
    Master_ for palm nut cracking utilized by chimps?

    I don't know that chimps will ever be seen carrying tool boxes (akin to
    socket sets) around with them, but isn't a crude or rudimentary tool still a
    tool? What's the difference between an "implement" and "tool" anyhow?
    Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Jun 08 2001 - 21:01:33 BST