The first human revolution was led by women, argues Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group. Article in Weekly Worker, 31 Aug 2006
“Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group looks at the ‘selfish gene’ revolution – and draws some rather different conclusions from moralistic liberals” – article in Weekly Worker. 3 Aug 2006
Language is peculiar. No other species has anything remotely like it. If language is part of nature – a kind of organ or instinct, like stereoscopic vision – it’s puzzling. It’s unusual for a complex biological adaptation to be wholly confined to just one species.
Let me begin with a self-evident point, perhaps too often taken for granted. When academics participate in conferences and debates, we find ourselves operating under the rule of law. Protocols exist. We must disclose our sources, expose ourselves to criticism and renounce any temptation to use threats, material inducements or force. There is status competition, certainly. But the status of our output is determined on an intellectual basis by peer evaluation alone; we compete to demonstrate relevance in others’ eyes… Download The Human Revolution (Symposium on the Evolution of Language) in PDF format [348KB]
Is there anyone out there? Our science correspondent Dr. Chris Knight refuses to go extraterrestrial.
HEADLINES across the world during August reported the shattering news: there was once life on Mars! The evidence consisted of strange microscopic ovoid structures in a meteorite discovered in Antarctica. The American journal Science had hardly appeared when President Clinton hailed the scientific discovery as perhaps the greatest in all human history.
From the outset, ‘spirit’ is cursed with the ‘burden’ of matter, which appears in this case in the form of agitated layers of air, sounds, in short, of language. Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness, as it exists for other men, and thus as it really exists for myself as well. Language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity of intercourse with other men.
(Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 1845-6/1963: 85-6)
7.1 Chomsky’s Model
Replying to his many critics, Chomsky (1979: 57) once accused them of not understanding science. To do science, Chomsky explained, ‘you must abstract some object of study, you must eliminate those factors which are not pertinent…’ The linguist — according to Chomsky — cannot study humans articulating their thoughts under concrete social conditions. Instead, you must replace reality with an abstract model. To deny this is to reject science altogether. Continue reading “Language and Revolutionary Consciousness”
Interview with Chris Knight and Pauline Bradley on 9th March 2002. Video recording by Peter Woodward and transcription by Heather Stephenson. Edited by Alan Woodward.