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A study of the origin of mankind

The problem of the origin of man cannot be solved by experiment or observation. The appearance of man on earth is a fact of the past of which no report or witness could reach us.

The factual data which we have at our disposal are comparisons of man of today with animals, supplemented by extremely rare, imperfect and damaged fragments of fossils of prehistoric man and remains of his stone implements. But they are a study of the origin of mankind with regard to the forces which have caused the evolution of animal to man. Where direct empirical data are lacking and indirect ones are so few, a far stronger appeal than is needed a study of the origin of mankind experimental science has to be made to the mental equipment of the scientist.

Whereas in the case of plenty of empirical facts that can be increased at will, no more is necessary than arranging and combining them and from them deducing new a study of the origin of mankind and making new a study of the origin of mankind, the scarcity of such facts causes theoretical discussion to play a more important part. What matters here is the logical combination of differing data, the seeking for connexion between what lies far apart, the making of conclusions, and the careful weighing of probabilities.

Here we meet with the difficulty — which cannot be solved but can only be pointed out — that most authors who have dealt with the origin of man, were specialised scholars who approached the problem from one of its many aspects. It may have been that of biology, or anatomy, or neurology, or that of prehistory or ethnology, or that of animal psychology, or linguistics, or philosophy.

When, then, there was insufficient acquaintance with the other aspects of the problem, or with important aspects of human life, explanations could only be unsatisfactory. It is not a problem of biology: It is not a problem of ethnology: It is not a problem of prehistorical archaeology or palaeontology, as only so very few hard, imperishable remains of what then lived could be preserved.

It is not a problem of comparative psychology, which cannot remove or bridge the deep cleft existing between man and the nearest animals. A fundamental difficulty is also that it is modern man who is compared with the animal; we use ourselves as the direct and best known object of comparison. This derives from the a study of the origin of mankind thought that man as such has not changed basically, and that man of the 19th or 20th century with all his habits, ways of thinking, and characteristics may be counted as the normal, natural human being.

Consequently, for purposes of comparison, modern man, with his highly developed individualism is placed in comparison beside the animal, whereas original man was entirely a community being. Further for preference the scholar himself is taken a study of the origin of mankind this purpose, who is an intellectual specialised in mental work, and chiefly concerned with abstractions, whereas man has always been first and foremost a practical being, working with his body and his hands.

In this way the problem must inevitably present itself in a distorted form. What matters is not the origin of modern man; the development from primitive to modern man, however much of it still awaits research, is generally known as a gradual, natural and comprehensible evolution without any enigmatical breaks.

The riddle is the origin of primitive man; the real problem is to understand the transition from animal to primitive man. The a study of the origin of mankind of anthropogenesis has gone through various aspects. Originally the difference between man and animal was considered to be so fundamental, that each was counted as belonging to an entirely different world, without any relationship. This found its expression in the doctrine of the separate creation of man, gifted with reason and possessed of an immortal soul.

As biology developed, the bodily similarity of man and animal became more apparent, and Linnaeus classified man in the animal kingdom as a normal species, Homo sapiens, belonging to the class of mammals and, with the apes, forming the order of Primates. A great number of biological studies since then have proved the essential similarity of man and animal as well as refuted any fundamental difference.

This was most difficult in the field of mental powers; but in this respect too it has repeatedly been pointed out in Darwinistic publications that the animal also thinks and shows intelligence that between the mind of animal and man there a study of the origin of mankind no essential differences but only differences of degree, and that it is but a question of more or less.

Thus the problem of the origin of man disappeared, not so much as if it were solved but rather stripped of its character as a special problem, the case not differing from the origin of any animal species from another. Thus, however, the balance had swung too far the other way. There are essential and profound differences, which are not so absolute that they form an unbridgeable a study of the origin of mankind separating two worlds, but are so large and so fundamental that one may speak of a difference of quality.

Quantitative differences, if only they become large enough, grow into differences of quality. An analogon, a trace, a beginning of every specifically human characteristic is present in the animal world — by which it is rendered possible that by a natural development man could descend from the animal. However these traces had to grow into something entirely new and different, and this stamps anthropogenesis as a special scientific problem. There are thee main characteristics which differentiate between man and animal.

Firstly, there is abstract thinking. Although animals do show a certain measure of intelligence, and though mental processes do take place with them which have their seat in highly developed brains, the capacity for abstract thought is only found in man. This is the thinking in concepts which has elevated him to so high a level of theoretical knowledge and science. Secondly there is speech, there is the use of language.

Although animals do produce sounds intended for mutual information, with man alone these sounds have significance as names, and thus are the basis of a high spiritual culture.

Thirdly there is the use of tools made by himself. Even though animals do make use of dead things from their natural surroundings as aids to their own support, with man this has become an habitual use of implements specially made for a purpose and according to a preconceived plan.

These implements are the basis of an ever growing technique, and therefore of our entire material civilization. However important this characteristic may be, it does not differentiate man from all animals. Many other animal species live in groups, they form communities, and the characteristic has been inherited by man from the animal world.

A study of the origin of mankind it is not permissible to cite the rapid evolution of man in contradistinction to the constancy of other species as a difference; this is not so much a characteristic itself but rather a quality of each of the aforementioned characteristics. Franklin called man a tool-making animal. Tool-using would have expressed the same; if he wishes to use them, he has to make them himself, as they are not offered from elsewhere. However as a distinguishing characteristic with respect to the animals the making has to be emphasised, since natural objects are also used by animals.

Thus branches and fibres are used for nest building, beavers use trees they have gnawed, and it is said that apes sometimes use a study of the origin of mankind and stones. On the other hand the making of the tool signifies a preconceived, planned, appropriate change of natural objects, based on the previous knowledge a study of the origin of mankind the effect. The tool is taken in the hand and thus made into an appropriate aid in the struggle for life.

Combined with the hand it has become a complete unit, a bodily organ, an active power. The hand, together with the tool it grasps, performs the same function which with the animal is performed by the bodily organs, viz. Instead of the manifold organs of the animals, each appropriate to its own separate function, the human hand acts as a universal organ; by grasping tools, which vary, for different functions, the combination hand-tool replaces the various animal organs.

The presence of such a grasping organ, therefore, has been essential towards the originating of man. This was an inheritance from the ape-like, tree-inhabiting ancestors who needed strong and at the same time sensitive grasping organs for climbing and moving amongst branches. That is why a a study of the origin of mankind being, such as man, could only descend from ape-like forms.

This book was one of the so-called Bridgewater Treatises, a series published with the aim to show the greatness of the Creator in the perfection of His creatures. First the possibilities of movement are described, defined by the structure of the bones and joints of arm and wrist, always explained by comparison with animal anatomy.

Then the power is considered which, at the end of a long, flexible lever, is communicated to the hand by the muscles of chest and back. The position of the thumb, itself supported by a strong muscle, with regard to the fingers causes the firm grip which even from the first weeks of existence is capable of carrying the weight of the body, a question of life and death to tree-dwellers.

Then there is the wealth of more than fifty muscles in the arm and the hand which have to co-operate in the simplest movement, and which in contracting and relaxing are kept under control by the will with extreme precision. At the same time the smaller minor muscles in the hand and fingers render possible an extremely delicately and quickly differentiated movement of the fingers.

Why is it important to study and understand the origins of humans?

To this must be added the delicate sense of touch for which the fingers, and even more the fingertips have been especially built. These latter are small elastic cushions, supported by shield-like, flat a study of the origin of mankind and provided with ribs built in the shape of spirals in which, under the epidermis, innumerable finely branched nerve ends almost reach the surface.

This sense of touch is an important faculty of the human hand. This higher perfection in capacity of movement as well as in sense of touch, a study of the origin of mankind the human hand as compared with that of the ape is harmonised by a greater development and differentiation of the nerves concerned. The sense of touch is, first of all, a means towards the acquisition of knowledge, through investigation of the environment. In touch, we must not only feel the contact of the object; but we must be sensible to the muscular effort which is made to reach it, or to grasp it in the fingers.

Man, Origin and Nature

Indeed, the active muscular feeling is coupled with the passive feeling of touch in the taking and grasping of things. The organs intended for the passive observation of nature, the senses, have to be sensitive, soft, and impressionable, in order to register the smallest transmission of energy; the organs intended for action on nature, such as teeth, and claws, have to be hard, solid, capable of resistance, in order to transmit great energy; the hand with the tool possesses both characteristics at the same time.

A study of the origin of mankind does not mention the purpose of this grasping, as technique, the practical life of manual labour is outside his orbit and his interest. Yet it is clear that what is grasped is the tool. The holding, steering, and manipulating of tools is the purpose of the hand, and a refined sense of touch is necessary for their being correctly held, directed, and steered.

The muscular feeling and effort are not concerned with the indifferent grasping of just anything, but with the working with tools.

In the struggle for life, consisting in the finding of food and resisting of enemies, the handling of tools is a necessity. The use of tools, apart from the hand being available as a grasping organ, is yet further conditioned, in the first place by a certain amount of mental development enabling man to foresee the action of his tool. Even in the worst peril, or when it is starving, the animal does not achieve the use of an available tool or weapon, simply because it lacks the power to visualise what it might do with it.

Even more does this apply to the a study of the origin of mankind of tools, for which visualisation is required of a future use of something not yet existing, i. The use, and to an even greater degree the development of tools, is only a study of the origin of mankind in a community. The skill of handling and constructing tools is not congenital, but has to be acquired by the younger generation from the older.

With isolated individuals every acquired skill would be lost with their death. A social community is, so to speak, immortal: The knowledge of the use and manufacture of tools in such groups is collective knowledge and a communal riches.

The younger generation grows up in this knowledge because a study of the origin of mankind the common practice of life, and each invention, each improvement is preserved and transmitted. This social life, an essential condition of the development of tools a study of the origin of mankind, therefore, of anthropogenesis, is also an inheritance transmitted from the ancestors in the animal kingdom.

The tool, grasped and guided by the hand, has with man the same function as the bodily organ with animals, but it performs it in a better manner. The superiority of the human tool as compared with the animal organ lies in the first place in its replaceability. It is a dead thing, and separate from the body.


When it has lost its usefulness or has broken it is thrown away. The bodily organ, on the other hand, cannot be replaced, so that a broken leg usually dooms the wild animal. Indeed, it is not even necessary for the tool to become useless; it may be discarded as obsolete when one more suitable for a given job has been made. Use of the same tool for various purposes causes its differentiation. Thus the original sharp stone which served all purposes grew into an ever increasing number of sharp stones such as the drill, the arrowhead, the knife, scratcher, saw, or axe, each the most suitable to its use.

This process of increasing differentiation continues into the later stages of technical development and, manifest in every craft and industry, becomes the driving force in the great technical development of a study of the origin of mankind. Man, therefore, has not one tool available, but many. Every time he takes another tool a study of the origin of mankind his hand the hand becomes a different organ.

Man is an animal with interchangeable organs. According to the need of the moment, to the prey he seeks, to the enemy he faces, to the alm he wishes to achieve he takes a different tool.