Monday, March 28, 2011

Humans And Monogamy

In an earlier post I attacked a book that made the argument that humans developed monogamy because of weapons. I find this hypothesis to be highly inadequate. I've read it before, but I'm not sure how widespread this perspective is, that human semi-monogamy as we have it now came about because of the concept of ownership. Some argue that this happened with the development of agriculture, others with artistic creations like necklaces. Whenever it developed, I think it makes much more sense if you look at the highly political lives of chimps and bonobos.

Basically, for men, if you own crap that you want to pass down, you want to give it to your own children. In chimp society, it's not a matter of passing down possessions, it's simply not expending energy to care for the children. There's no planning for the future. Ownership incentivises an understanding of blood lines. I find this explanation much more likely. But even then, there is no way to test these things. Every society on Earth has a system of ownership, so we can't go and find one that doesn't. We can't find a society without weapons. It's all intellectual masturbation.

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