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RFC: First-draft transcript: Nature of Man and the Human Condition: Language, Property, and Production (Hoppe)

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ayrnieu Posted: Mon, Jul 14 2008 2:23 AM

I'll be posting transcripts of Hans Hoppe's Economy, Society, and History lectures over the next probably 20 days, first to here and then to my (mises.com) blog.I'd appreciate any help you can offer in terms of mark-up (that is, taking a reference by Hoppe to a certain person and making that reference a hyperlink to something relevant), transcription errors, etc. I will also be going more thoroughly over this before I post it. Thanks.

I hate to post and run, but I've an appointment... now.

...

Thank you Lew, for inviting me for this occasion. Just a few introductory remarks: my accent is quite different from Mises's (laughter). I come from northern Germany, and in northern Germany we speak correct german (laughter). Mises as you can imagine had of course an Austrian accent, and if you have an ear for things like this, you can immediately tell the difference between my accent and his.

What I want to do in this seminar is to reconstruct world history, so to speak, from the bottom up. From the beginning of mankind so to speak to the present, and gradually enlarge and expand the picture. I will give you a brief overview of what I have planned, but let me say from the outset: I have never given these lectures in this form. Before I have presented some of these topics in various lectures and in my class on comparative systems I talk about subjects similar to the subjects I will deal with in this seminar. But never before have I presented lectures structured in this way, and because I have never done this, I have also not timed the lectures correctly. So it sometimes can happen that I don't use all my time and sometimes it might happen that I will take more of the time that has been alloted for my lectures, and in any case I ask that you bear with me, and to pardon me if I mismanage my time occassionally.

This is also supposed to be seminar-style, so I encourage you, if you have questions during the lecture if they are short, please raise your hand and I will answer these questions during the lecture. If they are more involved questions, I would ask that you wait until the lecture is over. And please also keep in mind that obviously some questions will be more appropriate to be brought up somewhat later during the seminar, and some questions are more appropriate at the beginning. In order to give you a basic idea how this whole thing is structured:

The first lecture, I want to talk about the nature of man. Comparing men with animals and illuminating the major differences, and characterizing what one can call the human condition, the condition that mankind finds itself confronted with.

The second lecture, I will talk about the spread of humans across the globe. And the development, the extensification and the intensification of division of labor.

The third lecture deals with the next element in human and economic development, that is the development of money and the expansion of money and the consequences that money has for the development of labor.

The next fundamental element will be the theory of time preference and of capital, of technology, and of economic growth.

All of the lectures by the way will contain theoretical elements and also historical elements. I'm not a historian by profession. My advantage so to speak is that I know more theory than most historians and reconstruct history because of that in a slightly different way than a historian might do it.

The fifth lecture will deal with ideological factors that have an influence on social and economic development. That is in particular religion. There will be a lecture on comparative religion and comparative ideologies.

The lecture six will be dealing with details of the theory of private property and the issue of how societies will defend property rights, with special reference to feudal societies. And what defense mechanisms would be used in modern societies, where we can take some ideas or cues from the feudal age.

The lecture number seven will deal with parasitic behavior, that is exploitative behavior, and the origin of the state.

And lecture eight will be based on something that I have done in my book, Democracy: The God that Failed, that is the transition from monarchical states, monarchical governments to democratic governments.

The following lecture will deal with states, imperialism, and war.

The final lecture will address some strategic issues. That is, how do we go from here to a society that is free, or at least more free than the current one.

So with this, let me begin talk about the nature of man and the human condition. And speak in particular about three elements that are unique, so to speak, to mankind. One is language, the second one is property, and the third one is production or technology.

Now, you realize then, when we begin all of this here, we are already talking. We are already using some of our capabilities, some of our skills and achievements, that are the result of human evolution. That is, the reconstruction that I will offer you of human history, makes already use of some of the tools that have only gradually evolved in the course of time. Actually, the origin of language is dated back roughly 200,000-250,000 years ago. All of these estimates are of course as you can imagine rather vague estimates. Nobody was around at that time and recorded exactly when they started talking. But these are the numbers that some geneticists and biologists and anthropologists give us for the beginning.

And you notice something else from the fact that we begin all this enterprise from talking to each other, that somehow humans are social animals. We are aware of the fact that there exists people who are interested in game theory, for instance, who seem to have problems sometimes explaining why do people cooperate at all and do not fight each other all the time. But the funny thing is, that this debate takes already place using language. Which in a way, from the outset explains that there must be something wrong with this idea that man was at some point deciding whether they should fight each other or whether they should not fight each other. Obviously, as soon as mankind began to talk with each other, they must have already recognized that there are certain advantages to doing this, and to be social in one's endeavor. And it is perfectly clear of course from the outset, what the great advantage of having a language available and communicating with other people is: we can convey knowledge to other people than would be possible if we simply had to just look what other people are doing and try to reconstruct so to speak the ideas that were behind what they were doing. Through language, we have the possibility of communicating directly what it was that led us to do this or led us to do something else.

Now, with language, two ideas so to speak emerge. I use here the ideas that were developed first by some Austrian psychologists, Carl Bruehler, who also had some influence on Karl Popper who uses some of his ideas. And Carl Bruehler makes the point that we can distinguish, when we look at language so to speak between four difference functions. Two of which we find already on the animal level, and two of which are unique to humans.

On the animal level we find use of symbols or sounds that express something. Like pain, for instance. That is an express function of language we can ascribe easily to animals and say in this sense they can express some internal feelings. They can do this.

On the other hand language has sometimes a signal function. That is we can produce sounds that indicate there is some danger coming, or warn people, warn other animals to run away. Both of these of course is also possible for humans to do. Language has an expressive function for us, and also has this signal function, to make other people aware of these.

What is not found in the animal kingdom is that language has a descriptive function. That is, language describes "this is such-and-such". And with a descriptive function of language, for the first time the idea of truth emerges. That is, for expressions and signals, whether it is true or not is not really an issue. But when we say "this is such-and-such", then it becomes possible to say "is that really the case?" So the idea of truth comes into being because language has a descriptive function.

And the most primitive descriptive propositions would be of the type "this is such-and-such". That is, having a proper name or an identifying expression, and then a general term characterizing a particular object as having general characteristics.

And the second unique human function of language is the argumentative function. That we have complex statements, connected by 'and' and 'or', several statements combined to each other, that we in Language has an expressive function for us, and also has this signal function, to make other people aware of these.

What is not found in the animal kingdom is that language has a descriptive function. That is, language describes "this is such-and-such". And with a descriptive function of language, for the first time the idea of truth emerges. That is, for expressions and signals, whether it is true or not is not really an issue. But when we say "this is such-and-such", then it becomes possible to say "is that really the case?" So the idea of truth comes into being because language has a descriptive function.

And the most primitive descriptive propositions would be of the type "this is such-and-such". That is, having a proper name or an identifying expression, and then a general term characterizing a particular object as having general characteristics.

And the second unique human function of language is the argumentative function. That we have complex statements, connected by 'and' and 'or', several statements combined to each other, and that we investigate whether certain are valid or not. And investigate so to speak if we drew inferences in the correct way or incorrect ways, and so forth.

And you realize that it is precisely this last function, this argumentative function, that we must also use as a tool if we now want to make a more precise distinction between the abilities of man on the one hand and the different abilities of animals. And I want to follow here a philosopher Brand Blanshard, who has pointed out some important differences between animals and humans.

And I want to begin with a little quote from Blanshard, in a book called Reason and Analysis, where he says this about animals, and then draws a conclusion that this is somehow still very different from what mankind can do. He says: What does it mean to have human reason or human rationality? And he answers: it cannot be consiouusness. Of course because no one can sensibly doubt that animals feel fear and hunger and pleasure and pain. Animals can also make mistakes, which we recognize as when for instance a dog drops a bone for a more inviting bone that he sees in the water. And since only judgements can be mistaken, animals must be also in some way able to make judgements. That is, come to the conclusion that I made a wrong judgement. And since judgement is thought, we can also say that animals think. But they do obviously not think in the same way that humans do.

Now, what is the difference between our way of thinking and their way of thinking? Now let me emphasize four points in this connection, which partly overlap.

The first thing to be noted is that animal thought is always tied to perception. Whereas human thought can wander around, go back to eternity, wander to the future, can think about objects that are far away, can even think about objects that have never existed. Animals cannot think in this way. Whatever their thinking is it requires so to speak some present cue, some observation from which their thinking arises. We can imagine for instance that animals can also think to a certain extent about things that are absent. As if a dog sits in front of a house because the house knows that his master has gone into the house, and waits there patiently until the master comes back out. But even there you can see that it is tied to perception. If he had not seen his master go in there, he would not do what he does sitting there waiting, and in any case he cannot think of things far away, or impossible, or things in the far distant future. So that is the first thing: animal thought is tied to perception, and human thought is in this way freed up of perception.

[To Q:] Yeah.

[Q: Is it possible that my dog is not waiting for me when I come back?]

Yes, we would make distinctions of course also between more intelligent animals and less intelligent animals, right? So the cockroach that you might have brought with you while you were just going into the house, might well not be waiting. So here I am talking, so to speak, about the most developed of animals.

[Q: But how do you know this? Because they do not report back?]

What?

[Q: Because there's a language barrier, how do we know that they're not thinking about the stars or infinity. They don't report to us.]

That brings me exactly to the second point (laughter). You say, that's one other fundamental difference between humans and animals, that they cannot do this. So even if you think that they might think about this sort of stuff, they have no way of conveying this sort of information to us.

Or, you can say: animals can't abstract, in the way that humans can abstract. Certainly animals can see shapes, and colors, and they can perceive smells, and things like this. But it doesn't seem to be the case that they have a concept of shapes, or triangles or whatever, or a concept of green or blue or yellow. Or a concept of different types of smells. Again this is an aspect of what I just mentioned. It is just tied to specific events, but they cannot abstract from the specific event and build a general concept.

If they could, then we would expect them to, yeah, to form a word for these things. And it is not that animals are not capable of producing sounds. Many animals do have the equipment to produce sounds. So this does not explain why they don't have words. Obviously, despite the fact that they can form sounds, they cannot form what we refer to as words. Sounds to which we attach a certain abstract idea for which we find various instances in the real world.

The third thing that distinguishes mankind from animals are: that animals cannot make inferences explicitly. Again this has something intimately to do with the two points that I already made. Animals can of course make inferences, but these inferences are implicit. That is to say if you have a chicken and you give some food to the chicken that is too big, doesn't fit into its mouth or so, and it is desperate that it can't eat it, and then you throw another one of roughly the same size in front of it, then the chicken might refuse to even try to do the same with the second piece of material, because it recognizes that it didn't work with the first it's not going to likely work with the second. But again due to the lack of concepts, they cannot make explicit inferences. That is, infer from one concept to another, and thereby be able to say: why such-and-such caused such-and-such a problem, and why it would be in vain to try the same thing twice, that did not already work in the first case.

And the most important difference between animals and humans is the difference that animals do not have what we call self-consciousness. They do have consciousness but not self-consciousness, and what I mean by self-consciousness is: they cannot stand back, so to speak, and reflect about their own behavior. They cannot pause and criticize their own behavior, think about why their behavior was successful or unsuccessful. They do not have anything like norms or principles, against which they can judge their own behavior and criticise their own behavior.

Let me on this point again quote Blanshard, on this most important of differences, that is the human ability of self-conscious reflection. There he says: finally human reason has added an extra dimension to the animal consciousness in the form of self-consciousness. An animal lacks the power which is the source in ourselves of so much achievement and so much rue, of standing off from itself and contemplating what it is doing. It eats, sleeps, and cavorts, but never pauses in the midst of a meal to take note that it is eating greedily. Never asks if it is not unseemly to sleep the hours away, (laughter) you see in some respects of course humans have not developed that far beyond animals (laughter). Apparently never reflects, as it leaps and runs, that it is a little off-form today. It makes mistakes, but having made one, it cannot sit down and consider what principle of right thinking is violated. Because it cannot contemplate its own behavior, it cannot criticise itself. Being below the level of self-criticism, it has no norms. And having no norms, it lacks one great obvious essential to the light of reason: that is, the power to be guided by principle.

And Blanshard then summarizes all of what I tried to convey up to this point by saying the following: when we say that man is a rational animal, then we seem to imply that he can command ideas independently of sense. Independently of perception. That he can abstract, that he can infer explicitly, and that he can sit in judgement of himself. The highest of animals can do none of these things. The stupidest of man, if not a pathological case, can to the light of reason: that is, the power to be guided by principle.

And Blanshard then summarizes all of what I tried to convey up to this point by saying the following: when we say that man is a rational animal, then we seem to imply that he can command ideas independently of sense. Independently of perception. That he can abstract, that he can infer explicitly, and that he can sit in judgement of himself. The highest of animals can do none of these things. The stupidest of man, if not a pathological case, can in some measure do them all.

So so much about the human language ability, characterized in particular by our ability of self-reflection, self-criticism, self-control, and so forth. This capability, we can now use in order to describe the human condition. Which will be my next step.

This human condition can be characterized in the following way. Mankind finds itself equipped with consciousness, and discovers that they have a physical body, and discovers that there is something outside of the physical body, what we in economics call 'land'. That is, nature-given resources. Things outside, independent of our body. And what we learn immediately is that we are constantly and permanently pressed by various needs, and have to act in order to satsify these needs.

What man immediately discovers is that certain things he can control directly. That is, we can all discover that we can directly control our own body. I can just say I lift my arm, and my arm is lifted. I lift my leg, and my leg will go up. And we realize that nobody else will do this. Everyone else can do that with his body, of course, but we have this ability of directly controlling something only with very limited things. I cannot control you directly. I can control you by being in direct control of my own physical body first, then I can of course indirectly make an attempt also to control you.

So this explains, so to speak, why we have the concept of 'I', of 'me'. Because certain things, only I can do and that distinguishes me at the outset from everybody else. This is what I can do and nobody can do this to my arm in the way I can do it. We can also say that we discover then, immediately, what we mean by having a free will. I can just want this. I just pick this up and that's it. There's nothing that forces me, it's just my own wanting so that makes it so.

And we also develop immediately some sort of idea of what it means to cause something. I am the cause of this bottle of water being in my hand and I am the cause of now drinking out of it. [pause]

So we recognize our unique relationship that we have to our own physical body, and that other people have to their own physical body. We know that I am, because of this, not you, and you are not me. We understand the concept of cause and we understand the concept of free will. Then we recognize, secondly, that there are other things out there that we can only control indirectly, with the help of those things that we can control directly. That is, with the help of our body, we can now of course also attempt to control things that exist external to our own physical body. We refer to those things as 'means'.

And we realize also that there exist things that we cannot control at all. We cannot control sunshine or rain. We cannot control the movements of the moon or the stars. Those things we refer to as the environment, which we have to take so to speak as a given. As something that is beyond our control. The borderline between those things that we can control and those things that we cannot control, the borderline so to speak between "those are means" and "that is the environment in which we act" is moveable. That is, certain things might come in our reach and can become controllable that were initially not controllable. Just think of -- just build a tool, for instance, that makes it possible that you can whatever reach up high, that you initially couldn't, or reach heights that you could initially not reach. Or reach depths that you initially could not reach. So the limits between the range of objects that become means and the range of objects that remain environment, the limits are moveable, flexible. It might well be the case that one day we are able to just move the moon around by waving certain types of instruments, but currently at least we are unable to do so.

Then, man learns immediately that some of the means, some of the things that he can control, that he can move, that he can manipulate, can be referred to as goods. And others can be referred to as bads. Goods would obviously be those means that are suitable in order to satisfy some needs that we have. And bads would be objects that we can control but that would have negative repercussions on us, that would not satisfy any needs, but to the contrary may harm us or even kill us. So at this point, let me read you the definition of goods.

Goods being means that can be controlled and, being suitable for the satisfaction of human needs or ends. And I will give you the definition that Carl Menger provided us with. Carl Menger pointed out that there are four requirements for objects to become goods for us. The first is a human need. The second requirement is: such properties that render the thing capable of being brought into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need. That is, this object must be capable, by performing certain manipulations with it, to cause certain needs to be satisfied or relieved at least or whatever it is. The third condition is, that there must of course human knowledge about this connection. Which explains of course why it is important for people to learn, to distinguish between goods and bads. So human knowledge the object, our ability of controlling it, and the causal power of this object to lead to certain types of satisfactory results. And the fourth is, as I already indicated, is of course: that we must have command of the thing, sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction of the need. So in this sense for instance, even though we might consider sunshine to be a good, or also rain to be a good, it would not be an economic good, because we have no control over the object that is capable of producing sun or producting rain. Only objects that we can bring under our control, and then lead to certain results, would be referred to as economic goods.

Man then learns that some goods are immediately useful. We refer to those goods as consumer's goods. They can be appropriate and then almost instantly turned into some form of satisfaction. And we learn also that most things however are only indirectly useful. They require that we must transform them in some way, that we reshape them in some way, that we move or relocate them in some way, using our intelligence in order to lead to satisfaction. And those objects that we have to do something intelligent to before they lead to satisfaction, we would call producer goods.

And man also recognizes, and this brings me to my second main point here, besides language, the concept of property. I already made the point with respect to our physical bodies, where it is intuitively clear that people recognize that this is my body because I am the only one that can do this with it and nobody else can do it. I have a unique relationship to my body, a relationship like nobody else has it. When it comes now to economic means, a similar idea arises: those people who appropriate a certain object, bring it under their control, in order to satisfy certain desires, have thereby also established a unique relationship to those things that they have for the first time appropriated, and they consider those things also theirs. Maybe not in the same direct way as with my body, but as an extension of my body. I used after all my body in order to appropriate these things, and in this sense I have a unique relationship with these objects as well.

Let me read to you in this connection, a quote from Herbert Spencer, who also explains so to speak the naturalness of the idea of property. He says that even intelligent animals display a sense of proprietorship, negatives the belief propounded by some, that individual property was not recognized by primitive man. When we see the claim to exclusive possession understood by a dog, so that he fights in defense of his master's clothes if left in charge of them, it becomes impossible to suppose that even if their lowest state, men were devoid of those ideas and emotions which initiate private ownership. All that may be fairly assumed is that these ideas were first less developed than they have since become. While in the early stages it is difficult, not to say impossible, to establish and mark off individual claims to part of the area wandered over in search of food (and I'll come to that subject later on a future lecture), it is not difficult to mark off the claims to moveable things, and to habitations, and these claims we find habitually recognized.

So, perfectly clear that moveable objects, tools and so forth that people have, at all times was private property and those objects recognized. In the most primitive man the concept of private property exists, not only with respect to his physical body, but also with respect to those appropriated means of production that indirectly satisfied his various desires.

Now let me elaborate a little bit on this concept of property by introducing a second person Friday. And again, you recall, we are already talking with each other, so we have to assume that these types of Fridays existed so to speak from the very outset of mankind, on. With a second person it becomes possible that conflicts over scarce goods can arise. It is not possible that conflicts arise over things that are in superabundance. Or conflicts that arise with regard to events caused by the environment. The environment we cannot influence, and if there exists a superabundance of goods, then it is impossible that people have different ideas of what should be done or should not be done with the good because whatever I do, it doesn't affect what other people can do with the same type of good, because it simply exists in superabundance.

And what people from again the most primitive stages of mankind on recognize is how to solve these possible conflicts with regard to scarce resources. They will point out that, look, *I* have an objective, perceivable, noticable connection to such-and-such thing. Because I have appropriated it, I have control over it, I have used it for this type of purpose, and I have all of this done before you ever came along and wanted to do something to the same object. So my claim is better justified than yours. As a matter of fact your claim is not justified at all because you cannot point to any objective link established between your body and a particular object, whereas I can point to a particular, visible, noticable, intersubjectively ascertainable link between me and a particular object.

And we can recognize this again by the fact that people are again from the most primitive stages on, willing to defend these objects from invasions by other people. If I would not defend anything, that is if I would not put up the slightest resistance against somebody taking whatever my axe or my arrow, then I indicate in a way that I do not consider it to be my property. If I show the slightest resistance, saying no or pushing my hands in the direction of the person trying to take it away from me, this indicates clearly that I regard myself as being the owner and having a special control over these things.

Again, we can see this also if we look at small children. If they have disputes over whose toy this is, the typical response is of children to say look, I am already playing with the car, and you are not. And if they put absolutely no resistance up, then they indicate that for the time being so to speak that they have abandoned it and made it available to others. So again very primitive sentiments, in this sense we can probably assume that the development of children in a way repeats the development of mankind as a whole: what we find in children we can already find in man.

Yep, there was a question there?

[Q: I was just gonna say: so, by this, technically speaking -- or theoretically speaking, you can't steal from a pacifist, or some sort of ascetic who doesn't really, you know, claim to hold any possesions? And by that you could also not really enslave them, moreover just have them do work for you? If they don't offer up any sort of resistance?]

Look, what sense does it make to say that you steal from him when you just go to him and just take things away and he doesn't even say no? In that case you would say that he doesn't indicate that he has any particular claim to it. That is in a way the best refutation of pacifism. Obviously, I can hardly believe that a pacifist would go as far as to not put up any resistance if I tried to pull out some teeth or take out some organ from him or cut off his ear or something like this (laughter). Obviously he does claim that he owns at least *that*. And if he would not put up any resistance, then we would indeed doubt whether he is a man. Not in the distinction of being a man as compared as to woman -- but a *man*.

Now let me come to the third unique capability of mankind, besides language and the recognition of property. I have already touched upon the third one, that is: that man can produce things. That man is a producer. That he is capable of developing technology. You realize, animals live so to speak a parasitic life in that sense that they never enhance the endowment of the world. They eat something, and in a way diminish the amount of things that are available on earth. But they never add anything to it.

[Q: Except themselves.]

Except themselves. Except their excrements, and things like this, but they do not do -- but no goods. That's right, they do not add valuable goods to it. They subtract something from the available resources. They eat certain things up, they have to wait until they regrow, but they don't grow them themselves, so to speak.

[To Q] Yeah.

[Q: In general I think you're correct, but bees certainly produce honey, and there are ants that grow mold and eat it.]

Yeah, I agree, to a certain extent. You might want to make a few exceptions such as this. But, by and large, there are very few of those that do this, and it is not characteristic so to speak of the animal kingdom to do something like this. And we can also imagine of course mankind in certain stages where they also lead by and large parasitic lifes. That would be during the stage when they are merely hunters and gatherers. In that case we can also say, all they do is diminish the existing resources. Except again with the small exception that they tend to use some tools to do this, and the tools can be described of course as additions to the nature-given resources. They are transformed into objects that were more valuable than the objects that were initially found in nature. But yes, so mankind can also lead semi-parasitic life and as long as they were hunters and gatherers, we can describe them as such. Quigley, for instance, in his book, makes this distinction, saying we are only talking about human civilizations as soon as man *adds* something to the existing equipment that we find in front of us, and we would not refer to hunter and gather societies as civilizaitons precisely because, by and large they lead a parasitic life, leaving less resources left over than they began with so to speak.

[Q: Isn't language one of those tools, or those things produced by humans?]

Yes.

[Q: Sort of a subset of that.]

Yes, of course it is a tool, and actually one of the most important tools that they produce if they think what it is capable of doing. Spreading knowledge from one person to another without having to experience all the experiences that people initially had to experience, then especially if you come to the stage of written languages, where you can transport knowledge so to speak to people who live at the other end of the globe, so obviously language is an extremely important instrument. But I am concerned here more with technical objects. And what we notice here is the following: man is unique in the sense that they have, as compared with most animals, a distinctive lack of specialized organs, and of instincts that make them basically incapable of survival unless they develop, so to speak, substitutes for this lack of natural equipment that they have. Men have no natural weapons with which to defend themselves. Nothing to speak of, so to speak. We have practically no instincts that guide us automatically to do this and that and avoid this and recognize dangers without having to *know* about it.

So what we can say is: man needs culture in order to survive in nature. And the two tools, the two most important tools that man has, are on the one hand his hands, and on the other hand of course his brain. But neither one of these tools can be described as a highly specialized tool. They are useful for a wide variety of purposes, which is so to speak an advantage, but it is also obviously initially a disadvantage. We just have to learn what we can do with our hands, and don't automatically know what our hands can possibly do, and we have to learn what our brain is capable of doing, and do not automatically like most animals know to what uses to put our brainpower.

So men must then intelligently transform nature by using brains an hands in particular. And there are certain patterns in the development of technology that we can perceive if you look at the development of mankind as a whole. Technology for man has, and here I follow a German sociologist and anthropologist, Arnold Gehlen, which I recommend quite highly -- I think one of his books has been also translated into English, it's called simply Man, I believe. Gehlen does not have a very good reputation because he had some sort of connection with the , which as you know that's always a career killer. (laughter)

But that does not make his observations any less important. So he points out, there are so to speak attempts in our technological development to substitute for the lack of organs that we do not have. Then, technology serves the purpose of relieving us of insufficient capabilities, and then it has the tendency of strengthening our nature-given capabilities. Let me just read you a quote from him, and the quote is in German so I have to just ad-lib that here a little bit, in translation. Man is in every natural environment incapable of survival, and because of this needs culture, due to a lack of specialized organs and instincts. Without an environment that is specific to his species, in which he would fit in. Without inborn purposeful behavioral patterns. Due to a lack also of specific organs and instincts. With less than perfectly formed senses. Without any weapons. Naked in his habitus embrionic. Insecure in his instincts. He must rely on action and on intelligent transformation of those circumstances that he happens to find. Hands and brains might be considered to be specialized organs of man, but they are specialized in a different sense than animal organs are. They can be used for many purposes. They are specialized for unspecialized purposes and achievements. And they are because of that suitable for unpredictable circumstances, arising in the world. The culture of primitive people thus consists first of its weapons, in their tools, in their huts, in their animals, and gardans, all of which is changed, transformed, cultivated, that is by newly-formed nature by intelligent action.

So, the first achievements of man are substitutes of lacking organs. Weapons, for instance. Also, fire as some form of natural protection and shelter. The second type of tools that are developed are developed in order to strengthen naturally-given abilities, like using stones in order to strengthen the power that a fist has, for instance. Or hammers, as tools that strengthen so to speak natural-given powers. Or microscopes, as instruments that are more developed than the natural human organs, eyes. Or telephones, as instruments that strengthen and surpass the natural-given abilities that we have through our ears.

And then he points out, there exists in human -- and again let me just [translate] -- and then there exists techniques that relieve humans, save them labor. For instance, a wheeled wagon, which allows us to carry weights that we could not carry naturally for instance. And instruments that even combine all of these things, that is they are in some sense substitutes for lacking things, in some respects surpassing natural abilities, and in some sense relieving us, saving us labor that would otherwise be necessary, such as for instance an airplane. An airplane allows us to fly, which we naturally cannot do at all. It surpasses all natural abilities that exist in this regard. And it takes work away completely insofar as it transports us without any effort on our own part from one place to another.

And Gehlen also points out that there exists in the history of technological development, another tendency that we can recognize, that is: a gradual substitution of inorganic materials and forces for organic materials and forces. So initially we used stones and wood and bones. The Stone Age ends roughly 8,000 years ago, and then in the next stage we already create some sort of artificial materials -- bronze, out of copper and tin, that begins at roughly 4,000 before Christ. In the United States, only, what, 1,000 after Christ. And then the next material, again already further removed from the nature-given materials would be iron, which comes into use about 1,200 before Christ, rougly. And then of course finally steel, which is a development of relative recent past.

Instead of organic materials we use increasingly cement and metals and coal, all of these things replace wood as burning material. We use steel ropes in order to replace leather and hemp ropes. We use synthetic colors instead of natural coloring materials. We use increasingly synthetic medicines instead of natural herbs and so forth. And we make ourselves successively independent of natural energy sources. For a long time mankind was so to speak dependent on his energy sources, on woods growing up again. And the natural speed of woods growing up so to speak put a limitation on the speed of development that mankind could take, and they were also dependent on natural, physical forces such as the power of horses and oxen and things like this, which also could not be deliberately enlarged or empowered. And in the development of technology, gradually we strip ourselves of these limitations, by using first coal and oil, and then also watercrafts, and then of course finally atomic forces, which make us essentially independent of the gross of natural materials.

Let me, to conclude this here, quote again Gehlen, who sees so to speak a logic in the development of human technology, a logic that we can see only if we look back from the present, so to speak in the past. We would not have been able probably at the beginning of mankind to predict that this would be the stages that technological development would go through, but looking backward we can somehow understand that there was a certain inherent logic at work. And he says: this process of technological development has three stages.

On the first stage, that of the tool, the force necessary for work and the necessary mental effort, still have to be done by the human subject itself. The tools somehow make it easier for us, strengthens our forces, gives us more force than we normally have, and reduce somehow the mental effort that is necessary, that we have to perform in conducting certain tasks.

In the second stage, of the machine -- steam engine and cars and so forth -- the physical force is already technically objectivated. That is we don't need any force anymore on our own part, all the part is generated by the machines.

And finally on the third stage of technological development, which is that of the autonomaton, even the mental effort that the subject had to show in the previous stages, becomes unnecessary or of very minor importance.

And with each of these three stages -- the instrument, the tool; the machine; and finally the autonomaton -- the objectivation of the fulfillment of the purposes of technology, comes closer to its ultimate purpose, and in the automaton, is finally reached, because we can do things without our physical or mental contribution.

And with I'll end my first lecture. Thank you.

(applause)

[Q: Does your research say, make any statement about what portion of the human brain as an organ is being utilized by mankind in this century?]

I think in this century it might be very little (laughter). No I have not investigated that but I'm sure that there were centuries when (laughing) more of our brains were used than is currently the case. No but I'm not a biologist, you know, so questions like this, maybe there is a biologist here.

[Q: I'm a biologist here, actually, I can address that. That's kind of a-- that's a very unfortunate thing that someone said ten or twenty years ago, that every biologist in the world wishes had never been said, that [???] people only use 10% of their brain. If that were true there'd be some people making a *lot* money, using 20% of their brain. So, that, yeah, some people have more brainpower than other people, that is true, but not, you know, [???] it's just, people use what amount avaliable to them. [???]]

I mean I can't imagine we could do experiments. You know we just chop of a little, slice by slice (laughter), but I think that will not, I think these types of experiments will not find too many adherents and fans.

[Q: Volunteers?]

[Q: I think you can say that only certain parts of the brain are useful for the function at hand. What's being done at certain times [???] 10%, there might only be 10% of the brain that's actually useful for the given activity that the person's performing. That's why we don't use 100%.]

Yeah.

[Q: I mean when you talk about automation, that's like using a calculator or like a scanning thing at grocery stores.]

Yeah. But also these machines that put car parts together and so forth. Robots.

[Q: I mean, so, I mean this is all pretty -- I mean this isn't fun stuff that want to really be thinking about all the time, I mean adding up numbers in your head or writing [???]. These calculator, I'm confused that it could be said that with this we use less of our brain power, because -- I mean do you think we'll ever come to a time when]

No we have it for-- you see, like, it might be a better way to put it that we *gain* time and possibilities to use it for other than tedious things.

[Q: Yeah, I think that would be it.]

But nonetheless it would be so to speak a relief of brainpower that previously had to be dedicated to these types of purposes, just in the same sense that machine tools relieve us of course of much physical power and energy that we had to put into things, and in the meantime we can be wimpier, so to speak, and develop other skills

[Q: It gives you time to write books, right?]

For instance, yeah. (laughter)

Yeah.

[Q: Your point about self-consciousness being a generally human rather than mere animal characteristic was supported by Harold Blume's book called Shakespeare, the Invention of Human, in which his thesis is that a soliloquy, a speaking out-loud about maybe I really shouldn't've gone to bed with my mother (laughter) Was]

Do you do that sort of stuff?

[Q: Well, she's dead.]

Oh, I see.

[Q: But, was a self-awareness, that we do think perhaps distinguishes us. So that was supported.]

Yeah yeah, right. I mean, just, watching my own cats, I think they don't think at all. They drift from one activity to another. I'm sure they never think I'm eating too fast, maybe I should just take a five-minute break. (laughter) Well they just do one thing, and then they just flop over, next activity, and then they just take a few steps, flop over again. So there is certainly no planning of life, no reflection of things, no criticising -- oh, yesterday, that was not a good day. (laughter) I think I should get up on another leg today, things like this.

Yeah.

[Q: You discuss how property rights are almost a response to the existence of scarcity, and the condition of scarcity, and I was wondering what could be said, in terms of civilizations or societies that exist at different levels of your evolution theory of societies--]

I'll come back to that in the next lecture. You know obviously you have a different range of property in hunter and gatherer societies than you have in agricultural societies for instance. So my point up to this stage was only that the idea of private property in certain things seems to be the most natural thing imaginable, because we even find on the animal level already. It requires so to speak another step to develop the idea of private property in land, for instance, which for a long time has been treated as a good that was not scarce at all, when you were just wandering around.

[Q: When we engage in ethical arguments, and moral discourse, which of the four functions of language would you say we use. Would you characterize that as falling under the argumentative function?]

You see like the argumentative function is the highest function, if you range them so to speak, but the argumentative function of course must make use of the descriptive function, because arguments of course refer to certain entities and so forth, you make descriptive statements in arguments. Also you make *more* than descriptive statements. You have conjunctions and disjunctions and so forth, that is you combine sentences with 'and' and 'or', and 'if' and 'then', and things like this, that require of course a different type of analysis than just simply a descriptive statement like you have a beige shirt on or something like this. But yes, the descriptive function is also always involved in the argumentative function.

[Q: So we're not describing. When we make a moral claim, we're not simply then using language to pick out a property that exists in the world. I mean my beige shirt is beige, but if you said the beige shirt is *good*, we don't expect that *goodness* to actually be--]

Yeah, but nonetheless, we do talk about shirts. Right? We do talk about objects, we do talk about you have done something to the object, he has done nothing to the object, and in so far we also need descriptive statements from which our argument arises.

[Q: Your praise the power to be guided by principles?]

Right. One more question, and then--

[Q: Have you been interested in the story of Prince Kropotkin, who was exiled to Siberia. And he studied and arrived to a complete lecture of remarkable parallel, I hadn't recalled it until now. He was an heir to the Czar's family, and his views were very much like ours and they exiled him for a number of years to Siberia and he spent these years studying the animal life. It illustrates just what you say. But even a division of labor within that: there were the fast wolves that caught, there were the others that defended, there were some that bred, et cetera.]

Yeah I know but he goes too far, in my view. When I will talk about division of labor, among men, there is more to it than what we might call division of labor between bees and birds and things like this, because their division of labor is so to speak assured by some instincts. Whereas division of labor in the case of man *can* completely break down, and requires insights in order to be maintained. So in this sense I would not go as far as Kropotkin in wanting to make analogies between animal life and the life of men. He goes too far in my judgement.

[Q: Can I add one sentence to it? It was not Mill's division of labor that he saw, and he paralleled it with the study of the human kind. So he found a common characteristic, that improved the life of the wild animals, season after season, and improved the life of the humans. And he used a different time -- not of volition, mutual aid. He minimized the importance of family to the human kind, and put it into to little cultural groups of which they were apart.]

Yeah, I mean I'm not a great expert on Kropotkin, maybe I'll read up on Kropotkin after all.

Thank you.

(applause)

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Conza88 replied on Sat, Jan 9 2010 2:40 AM

ayrnieu:
So with this, let me begin talk about the nature of man and the human condition. And speak in particular about three elements that are unique, so to speak, to mankind. One is language, the second one is property, and the third one is production or technology.

ayrnieu:

What is not found in the animal kingdom is that language has a descriptive function. That is, language describes "this is such-and-such". And with a descriptive function of language, for the first time the idea of truth emerges. That is, for expressions and signals, whether it is true or not is not really an issue. But when we say "this is such-and-such", then it becomes possible to say "is that really the case?" So the idea of truth comes into being because language has a descriptive function.

And the most primitive descriptive propositions would be of the type "this is such-and-such". That is, having a proper name or an identifying expression, and then a general term characterizing a particular object as having general characteristics.

And the second unique human function of language is the argumentative function. That we have complex statements, connected by 'and' and 'or', several statements combined to each other, that we in Language has an expressive function for us, and also has this signal function, to make other people aware of these.

ayrnieu:

And you realize that it is precisely this last function, this argumentative function, that we must also use as a tool if we now want to make a more precise distinction between the abilities of man on the one hand and the different abilities of animals. And I want to follow here a philosopher Brand Blanshard, who has pointed out some important differences between animals and humans.

And I want to begin with a little quote from Blanshard, in a book called Reason and Analysis, where he says this about animals, and then draws a conclusion that this is somehow still very different from what mankind can do. He says: What does it mean to have human reason or human rationality? And he answers: it cannot be consiouusness. Of course because no one can sensibly doubt that animals feel fear and hunger and pleasure and pain. Animals can also make mistakes, which we recognize as when for instance a dog drops a bone for a more inviting bone that he sees in the water. And since only judgements can be mistaken, animals must be also in some way able to make judgements. That is, come to the conclusion that I made a wrong judgement. And since judgement is thought, we can also say that animals think. But they do obviously not think in the same way that humans do.

Now, what is the difference between our way of thinking and their way of thinking? Now let me emphasize four points in this connection, which partly overlap.

The first thing to be noted is that animal thought is always tied to perception. Whereas human thought can wander around, go back to eternity, wander to the future, can think about objects that are far away, can even think about objects that have never existed. Animals cannot think in this way. Whatever their thinking is it requires so to speak some present cue, some observation from which their thinking arises. We can imagine for instance that animals can also think to a certain extent about things that are absent. As if a dog sits in front of a house because the house knows that his master has gone into the house, and waits there patiently until the master comes back out. But even there you can see that it is tied to perception. If he had not seen his master go in there, he would not do what he does sitting there waiting, and in any case he cannot think of things far away, or impossible, or things in the far distant future. So that is the first thing: animal thought is tied to perception, and human thought is in this way freed up of perception.

Awesome. Thanks for this. Btw, alot of what you wrote - the text, is repeated twice, when it shouldn't be.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Sage replied on Sat, Jan 9 2010 10:20 AM

Are you using a slow-downer to do this?

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

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