By Charles Singer et al (eds)

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Kohler). Thus apes are very restricted in visualizing and thinking about the relation­ ships between objects not in sight. The power of abstraction— conceptual thought— is basic to the regular manufacture o f tools. In apes it is no more than nascent. Mme Kohts in Moscow found that her chimpanzee could select from a collection of objects of extremely varied form those o f the same shade o f colour. This mental isolation of a single feature from a varied field o f observation re­ presents the first dawn of conceptual thought; but she found also that such ideas rapidly faded in the ape’s mind.

Identification o f the first stone tools is almost impossible, for not only were they usually pieces o f naturally fractured stone, but man’s first attempts to improve their shape would have been indistinguishable from the accidental chippings produced by natural agencies. For this reason, none o f the so-called eoliths can be accepted unreservedly as human work. Except for their occurrence in a cave deposit with hearths and human remains, few o f the stone artifacts of Pekin man would have been recognized as human work.

Even those movements which have been so deeply impressed by training or practice as to be habitual, such as walking or knitting, are impaired or lost if one side of the motor area becomes damaged, as by cerebral haemorrhage. Acts based on reflexes in the lower part of the brain or spinal cord, like the movements of flight in birds, or the discharge of urine in man, are unaffected by such damage. i6 17 It is evident that the powers of conceptual thought on the one hand, and of skilled behaviour on the other, are closely related.

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A History of Technology by Charles Singer et al (eds)


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