From Apes to Artists


The Cognitive Revolution refers to the evolution of humans adapting abilities like critical thinking, creativity, reasoning and other intelligent traits that led to early Humans using tools and transforming into a hunter-gather species, about 70,000 years ago. (Harari 3, 20, 36) The Agricultural Revolution by comparison refers to when humans began exploiting the planet and its resources in order to create farms, which in turn created communities that developed into societies that eventually led to the rise of art, culture, language, politics and law. This shift in human behavior occurred about 12,000 years ago, changing humans from a foraging species to one that settled. (Harari 3, 44). This was a drastic difference in behavior that separated humans from other animals on the planet ; no other living organism had evolved or adapted to exhibit behaviors such as these, not even other primates like chimps and apes.


I think Homo Sapiens became dominant due to inherent biological advantages over other primate animals, animals in general, being highly adaptable and able to spread from environment to environment, and having abilities that surpassed the other species of proto-humans such as the Neanderthals. Harari seems to believe that imagined orders, or social expectations and desires, invariably cause members of a species to fall in line and to cooperate with one another. I would more or less agree that this is what caused the success of the human species, but not entirely. Humans are really the only species capable of romanticizing and speculating and constantly trying to invent and improve, and that is what makes us unique, not necessarily superior to other species. We happened to be the perfect template and have the perfect body structures to enable members of our species to colonize and spread rapidly… in the environment of the periods before humans even evolved, we would have never had had the chance. The impact that killed the dinosaurs and changed Earth’s landscape permanently shifted the balance and re-rolled the dice for all players involved. Otherwise, reptiles with brains the size of walnuts would have dominated the planet. That was an example of a external factor that led to eventual human dominance, one independent of imagined orders. I think that much of our success as a species is due to having lucky variables.

1 thought on “From Apes to Artists”

  1. I totally agree with your comments that humans became dominant in large part because of our ability to speculate and seek improvement. Further more our curious nature lead to many improvements that are only possible because of our natural born gifts like opposable thumbs and an upright posture as opposed to other naturally curious creatures. Also the fact that sapiens happened into existence after the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs is a very good point to bring up as to the success as a species. Do you think, however, that social factors such as the desire for grouping and forming tribes also played a role in Homo sapiens rising to dominance? I think it’s an interesting and valuable point to bring up that we are unique as opposed to superior to other species, as it shows that we still need to be considerate of our position in nature and think of other valuable and important species.

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