Thursday, September 11, 2014

Anthropology and Becker knives

[written 8-29-14]

The predominate view among anthropologists is that homo sapiens as a species has been in existence for about 200,000 years. So what he has been doing for that period is important to us. For example, I wouldn't be going out on much of a limb to say that our ancestors for the bulk of the 190,000 years we have no recorded information about spent most of that time walking. So in choosing hiking as one of my main interests "might" have provided some benefit that I don't know about. If our bodies were design to walk and I do a lot of it, it can't hurt.

Interestingly, the dog, canis familiaris, as a species has been in existence about the same length of time. There is no evidence that he has been domesticated quite that long, but he might have been (IMHO). And we know that having a dog can increase your sense of well being and add years to your life. Did the ancestors who got along best with dogs have an evolutionary advantage over those who didn't? Very probably. Dogs helped us hunt, they guarded our campsites, they stayed back and guarded the women and old people while they "gathered" as the men took the dogs best suited for it and went out hunting.
Also, we know that there was an evolutionary advantage to growing very old because the old people could teach the young about where the water could be found, where the game herds moved to, what herbs were good for what, what unusual weather conditions meant, and how best to make things like spears and knives. Tribes with old people like that had an evolutionary advantage over the tribes that didn't.

Now it might seem that I am reaching very far in looking for a rationalization for buying so many knives, but having a lot of tools and weapons would provide another evolutionary advantage to our ancestors. We know that a big advantage occurred when the bow and arrow were developed, and any improvement in that system would provide an evolutionary advantage to those who had it. But how is that going to provide an evolutionary advantage in this day and age? There might be a slight advantage in that we who have a lot of really good knives receive from them (at least I do) a sense of well being, and after all we are behaving in a way best suited to our evolutionary forebears and their inclinations. Whether having knives will enable us to live longer in the same way that having dogs will, perhaps not, but maybe.

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