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Old 05-31-2017, 10:34 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Chimps learn to use tools by watching their mothers, and it takes them years to master what could be taught to a human child in a a few weeks, at most, once the child is 3 or 4 years old and has a good command of language.

The other thing that language allows us to do is to extend our "theory of mind" well beyond what a non-language capable species can do. "Theory of mind" is the ability to imagine what another being is thinking, or to know what knowledge another being has or doesn't have. Chimps are pretty good at that, but nothing beats telling the other guy exactly what you're thinking. It's that ability to see inside another person's mind that really allows us to cooperate in much more complex ways than other species.

It also allows us to just get along better. As the observation goes... fill a cross-country flight with chimps and when it lands, there's a good chance that only one chimp will still be alive. (That might not work as well for bonobos, but it's still an interesting observation about the difference between common chimps and us.)
Good stuff here and in the subsequent posts by the others.

Ref just this: "Chimps learn to use tools by watching their mothers, ..."

Implicitly in most folks' posts upthread, "communication" means transmitting. People (or chimps) have a social goal to transmit their knowledge, whether of toolmaking techniques, or simply which way to the berry bush.

Inherent in communication is also the desire to receive.

The baby chimp (or human) somehow wants to observe Mom and somehow wants to store those observations. And store them not as a passive memory of Mom putting on an entertaining show, but as an active template for future self behavior abstracted to different, but somehow similar circumstances in somehow essential ways.

Low social animals, e.g. cougars, are essentially indifferent to conspecifics unless they pose a competitive threat or a mating opportunity.

Conversely, in high social animals like us, for some reason we (and chimps) are fascinated with other humans (chimps). That's the deep driver. The rest is just details floating on the surface.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 05-31-2017 at 10:35 PM.