Humans do not descend from apes; humans ARE apes.
Humans are biological organisms. Born, grow, reproduce, age, die, rot.
Humans are not exempt from any biological process
Humans are just as much animals as any other animal
3 Distinguishing factors from other animals (in relative, NOT absolute terms)
“Started it all”
We think hominins became bipedal as a survival mechanism when they stopped living
in forests; moved into flat, open land.
Other bipedal animals exist (e.g. chickens, ostriches); therefore, bipedalism was a
necessary evolution but not sufficient to lead to the intelligence of humans
When animals became bipedal, they had two “extra” limbs – allowed for the
development of tools, technology.
Huge brains (relative to our body size)
Eating meat was necessary for development of brains
What did we need to be powerful predators? (see below)
Complex tool making
We believe the first tools were created ~2.5 million years ago
Technology has allowed humans to thrive in any environmental conditions, as opposed
to most animals which are environmentally specialized (other than cockroaches).
Why? Because we do not live by biological, physical adaptations; we live by
Normally animals take ~10,000 years to make a major biological adaptation; we can
technologically adapt much more quickly. However, if our technology fails, we fail. We no longer biologically adapt.
Humans are separate because of technology, invention
One of the things we invented was SOCIETY
(As far as we know) individual hominins became social in order to survive in an
environment where they could not survive individually – defensive/offensive mechanism.
We survived because we united and created tools/technology eventually made us
Earth’s #1 predator
Humans are more social than most other animals
Biologically, humans are born much more defenseless than any other primate
Need to be cared for much longer than other primates
Motherhood is biologically “scripted” – pregnancy, lactation, etc.
Fatherhood is not scripted biologically in the same way – only need to provide the
Fatherhood is a SOCIAL, not a biological, construction
For 1.1 million years, the “human toolbox” stayed relatively the same (was very
However, during the Neolithic age, this human toolbox started changing rapidly
Homosapiens have existed for 250,000 years
But Homosapiens were hunter/gatherers until 25,000, 30,000 years ago
Up until 100,000 years ago, there were several other hominin groups.
Up until 30,000 years ago, Neanderthals existed. Epistemology 08/29/2012
EPISTEMOLOGY: the study of systems of knowledge / the study of how human beings
decide what is true and what is not true
Voodoo, science, religion (ways of seeking knowledge and truth) are epistemology
Long-term trend in human society – Progressive Disenchantment of the World
(explanations trend towards natural/secular explanations and away from
Religious knowledge is slowly displaced by secular knowledge
These sets of knowledge coexist in most societies; therefore,
A struggle exists between the two differing, sometimes conflicting perspectives.
Truth is relative to the system of epistemology in which it exists.
There is no way to objectively decide what the “real truth” is.
You cannot judge truth in one system of epistemology by another; e.g. religion by
science or vice versa.
We live in a society which is largely – but not fully – demystified. We know natural
answers to most questions but not all.
As long as there is incomplete demystification, there is conflict because people have to
choose between systems of truth.
SHIFT FROM RELIGIOUS TO SECULAR KNOWLEDGE:
Four causes for renaissance ideology (secular knowledge, humans over gods, science
as commonly accepted epistemology/arbiter of “truth”, social questions social
1. 1300 B.C.E.: Black Plague
Catholic church used to have answers for everything
Made disbelievers of large numbers of Europeans
Exposed the limitations of sacred knowledge
2. Change of European society
1/2 of Europeans die
Shortage of labor
Necessity for efficiency, machines to get things done Epistemology 08/29/2012
3. Emergence of egalitarian theories
Theory used to be that people were divinely created unequally (status ordered by god,
Divine right of kings, everything had a religious answer, to question the system of
inequality was to question god)
Replaced by the idea that all men are created equal
People were newly enabled to question social power
Birth of sociology, scientific study of society
4. European Colonialism
Conquering other places
Need to know how to subjugate those people
Anthropology arose from the need to know how to do so
STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY:
We cannot study social science the way we study physical, natural sciences
In the natural sciences, there are “absolute truths”
In sociology, most truths are relative to specific points in time and to specific groups of
people; not as neat
Science is a good system of epistemology for nature; not as perfect for humanity/sociology;
religion is still a necessary system of epistemology for sociology Social Inequality 08/29/2012
SOCIAL INEQUALITY is perhaps the most important and central question.
Every society is characterized by some type of social inequality within it.
Sociologists ask: How do you deal with that?
In society, for every gain, there is a loss.
Most basic loss that comes with society is that one is always subservient to others
Someone always has more power than others
There are always rules and we must always obey
It is the task of sociologists to change the types of inequalities that exist
An equal society is not a society because no one has power.
Assume we have an island.
There is one coconut palm on the island which produces 3 coconuts/year.
There are two people on the island who each need 1 coconut/year to survive.
Who gets the third coconut? Why?
The most powerful will get the third coconut.
There will never be equal distribution.
If the coconut were split in half, that would be a utopic society
Someone will always take the coconut Social Inequality 08/29/2012
But no one can keep the coconut forever
Eventually someone else will take over
Every society has extra goods. Who gets the extras? Why?
More power = more of the extra goods
There is always an unequal distribution of power
The quest for power is the central idea in society.
There can never be a fully equal, utopic society.
People always want more power
But no one can always be the most powerful; power shifts
Killing one of the people is valueless
History is the graveyard for aristocracy
No one keeps the coconut forever
History is the account of who had power, but then lost it to someone else
In any society, there are characteristics of that society which give advantages to some
At any given stage of human development, some characteristics become more
Who holds power for the longest time?
Religious leaders Social Inequality 08/29/2012
When everything was unders