Two Lessons from Human Evolution
(c) 2011*, Davd
Human nature formed in hunting and gathering societies, where all adults were producers. Men hunted (e.g Harris, 1989: 278-281), and mostly they hunted co-operatively. Women gathered—foraged roots, berries, and sometimes other edible or useful parts of the natural environment. Most of what they gathered were plants or parts of plants.
Human evolution shifted from being primarily biological to being primarily cultural “at some point during the last 100,000 years, and perhaps only within the last 40,000 years” (Lenski, Lenski and Nolan, 1991: 92) while big-game hunting as men’s work and gathering as primarily women’s work began much earlier (ibid.: 89-90). Hunting shaped men’s nature, and gathering shaped women’s1.
Hunting is inherently violent. Those neat styrofoam trays of meat in the supermarket contain cut-up portions of the dead bodies of animals. A few days ago i spent 3-4 hours turning 47 recently killed mackerel into stored meat; i have killed and butchered fish and game many times, and farm animals a few times. As the meat providers in prehistoric human societies, men used violence to feed their communities. Real men are violent—but disciplined and restrained in our use of violence. Lack of discipline can cause injury, and it can cause tainted meat.
Undisciplined men don’t have the reproductive—the evolutionary—fitness of disciplined men. Men who resort to undisciplined violence have lost some of their humanity. They are not “real men” in the full sense. For anyone, and especially for a Feminist purporting to be expert, to describe a violent rampage as typical of man-nature, is—if not a malicious lie or a self-deception—ignorant to the point of folly.
Real men are co-operative. During the thousands of centuries when humanity evolved, there were no rifles, no shotguns, no compound bows or fiberglass arrows. Our earliest ancestors [and here i refer to the first Homo sapiens, as well as Australopithecus and H. erectus] didn’t even have crude longbows. Clubs, spears, maybe slings were the weapons available, and with those weapons, teams of our ancestors killed elephants!—as well as aurochs, bison, caribou, elk, moose, pigs [which can be both large and deadly], and zebra. Even elk and zebra are too large for one man, armed only with spears, clubs and stone knives, to reliably kill alone.
During those hundreds of millennia of human genetic evolution, human nature was formed. Men [and male pre-humans] needed co-operation, discipline, and restraint to provide high-protein, immensely valued food using tools and weapons we would find incredibly crude. Men would not be on Earth today if we did not have co-operation, and discipline including restraint, bred into us.2
* This essay was published originally on the Spearhead website in September 2011, when that site was very active. The language has remained “current as of 2011”; and given its focus on prehistoric humanity, more recent events or writings would not change the body text. It is posted here on everyman now, because access to the Spearhead site has recently been unreliable.
1. During these hundreds of centuries, perhaps millions of years of evolution, women seldom if ever hunted big game. The co-operation, discipline, and restraint that was bred into men could possibly have their main loci “on the Y chromosome”, such that women are less co-operative, less disciplined, less restrained by nature, not merely for cultural reasons associated with civilization. “Charles Martel” (on The-Spearhead, January 2010) summarized neurological research indicating major differences between men’s and women’s brain anatomy: It is virtually certain that important gender differences in personality are “inborn” rather than learned. Whether men’s co-operation, discipline, and restraint are genetically based in brain features that differ from women “is not [to my knowledge] yet established”. We should keep in mind that they very plausibly might be.)
2. If there were instead, some species of big-brained ape that lacked co-operation, discipline, and restraint, it would not be human as we know humanity.
Harris, Marvin, 1989. Our Kind. NY: Harper and Row.
Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski, and Patrick Nolan, 1991. Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
“Martel, Charles”, 2010. “Is There a Female Brain?” The-Spearhead website, January 3.