What Is Humankind Essay Research Paper What

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What Is Humankind? Essay, Research Paper What is Humankind? Lisa Marinelli Anthro. 2 Anthropologists have continually attempted to distinguish humankind from its closest relatives-other primates. With so many things apparent in both human and animal life like language, society, and tools, humans are left pondering what separates them from apes and chimps. Through examining aspects of the lives of humans and primates, a rough answer to what is humankind? will be derived. Culture: Culture is the learned behavior and set of rules shared by members of a society. Culture includes three types of knowledge: science and technology, arts and beliefs, and socialization (1; p.32 and 3; 6/17/98). While free-ranging nonhuman primates possess certain aspects of culture, they lack arts and

beliefs. Discussed later in this essay, science and technology are found among chimps in their use of tools like termite sticks and socialization is seen among baboon troops (4). But only chimps in captivity show their ability to paint or make art (4). On the other hand, humans encompass all aspects of culture. They use science and technology in advanced tool making of hand axes and use socialization in the raising and enculturating children. Humans distinctly hold arts and beliefs as an important aspect to their society. Using dances like that of the Trobrianders, humans incorporate arts into their important ceremonies (5). Society: Society is a group of people who reside in a particular area, who share common cultural traditions, and who are dependent on each other for survival

(1; p.32-33). An example of a nonhuman primate society is a troop of baboons (4). Certain troops of baboons depend on members for survival and share a common culture by dividing social roles on the basis of sex. It is the male baboons role to protect the female and youths of the troop from predators. An example of human society is the Yanomamo tribe. In the forests of northern Brazil and southern Venezuela, Yanomami are dependent on each other for food and shelter (2A; p.10). They also share cultural traditions and base status upon kinship relationships (2A; pg.10). It is evident that both nonhuman and human primates share the construction of society in their various cultures. Language: Language is a system of communication using sounds or gestures that are put together in

meaningful ways according to a set of rules (1; p.92). While language stands as vital part of humankind existence, language can also be used in the communication of other primates. Certain captive chimps have been able to converse nonverbally by means of pictographs, American Sign Language, and keyboards that use symbols rather than letters. One example of a chimpanzee taught by humans to communicate is Sarah. Sarah learned to converse through using pictographs; each pictograph stood for a noun or verb (1; p.115). Although the communication of captive nonhuman primates has been successful, it has been limited by being nonverbal. Wild nonhuman primates often yell or yelp in fear when they fear a predator. This type of communication proves not to be as complex as that of human.

Human s incorporate language into their culture, thus pieces of language in one culture can mean something entirely different in another culture. Laura Bohannan found this to be true when she attempted to describe Shakespeare s Hamlet to an African tribe. After explaining that Hamlet saw and listened to his dead father speak, the tribe interrupted with their own interpretation of the story based on the language of their tribe (2B; p.63). The tribe s interpretation challenged the meaning that Bohannan once found in this segment of Hamlet. Whereas humans can interpret thing differently, like Hamlet, nonhuman primates cannot. The complexity of human language stands as a distinguishing characteristic between humans and other primates. Enculturation/Socialization: Enculturation is the