Is the Creator a thief?

I’ve tried before in the name of humanity To apologize to Neanderthals for systematic negatives. But unfortunately, some like me tend not to heed this, nor the message itself that comes from more serious sources. And so they just keep getting angry.

With remarkable regularity, archaeologists have found new evidence of the highly developed material culture of Neanderthals. The accumulation of such evidence could mean that Neandertals were hardly, if at all, inferior to modern humans in their cognitive abilities. But hardly has a newly found artifact of Neanderthals been dusted off, or does a contemporary specimen of that modern human stand ready to claim that neanderthal manIf he doesn’t already have the tool sane man Traded for a handful of berries, I’m sure it would have been copied from the latter. One Fantastic new discovery A 51,000-year-old inscribed bone fragment, it escapes this damage for the time being. After all, in the vast area surrounding the site, the site of the Neandertal of Einhornhöle, there are no traces of contemporary existence. sane man. But, of course, it cannot be excluded that sooner or later such a path will appear, and then we will return to square one.

Now I don’t want to talk about whether neanderthals hate us, smart or not sane man. This is food for experts. I don’t really want to argue that scientists should be allowed to question every detail and every alternative explanation. This is their ultimate job. I want to talk about whether the alternative explanation in question – let’s call it the peeping hypothesis – makes a big difference in the bigger picture. Basically what we’re talking about here is the difference between copying and creativity, or the nature of creativity, and that’s something the linguist can have a say in.

Video: 3D rendering of a 51,000-year-old bone, decorated by Neanderthals.

But first, let’s go back to that piece of bone. The bone in question comes from Megaloceros giganteus. Anyone with some knowledge of classical languages ​​will notice that we are dealing here with the bones of a large animal. In Dutch it is called Megaloceros giganteus Giant deer, a member of the megafauna that roamed Europe until a few thousand years ago. Wikipedia He tells us that such a deer has a height of two meters at the withers. Giant deer antlers alone can weigh 40 kg, and their width can easily reach 3 meters. Besides the magnificent appearance, giant deer were also rare in the period and region from which the ornate bone comes from. So it looks a lot like Neanderthals didn’t just pick that piece of bone, but it was as meaningful to them, just as it might be to us. It should also be noted that the pattern carved into the bone is complex and requires planning as well as various techniques. It becomes more interesting. The researchers who reported the discovery figured out what to do to carve a giant deer bone like Neanderthals did. It turned out to be no feat. The most surprising finding is that the bone probably should have been cooked beforehand. Now put yourself in the shoes of a Neanderthal, without a stove and cooking pot, and try to imagine how you would cook a giant venison bone.

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specially. If you’re not an expert in this field, I assume you’re like me, don’t immediately know how to solve this problem.

For some reason—I guess, ironically, a lack of imagination—we as humans tend to constantly overestimate our creativity. This overestimation is accompanied by exaltation and exaltation. Our Western culture excels at this. The final creative work is the work of the Supreme Being, the Creator of heaven and earth. We like to think of our creative power as a piece of God within ourselves, or at least as a divine voice that only we can hear. This creative force is what should distinguish us from animals, especially from our closest relatives, the apes. Unfortunately, we like to extend the same distinction to other populations, especially when we feel a bit threatened: “The Chinese, they can work hard, but there’s not much authenticity in them,” and so forth. This focus on creativity, along with some other Western obsessions (or values, if you will), is at the root of neoliberal growth ideology: if you’re not making something new, you’re not doing it right. Besides, glorifying creativity is not alien to my specialty. The core of the language lies in the ability to create endless new sentences with a limited number of lines, according to Noam Chomsky.

Now I wouldn’t say that people aren’t resourceful, or that we shouldn’t cherish our creativity as something special, but let me mute all that flapping for a bit. First, what we think of as creativity is always based on copying, imitation, imitation, and repetition. Our most creative minds often admit it. As writer George Saunders recently wrote of reading other authors, “I sometimes joke (but I don’t joke) that we read to see what we can steal.” Likewise with the creativity shown by Neanderthals in carving a giant deer bone. This creativity is built, even in the Stone Age, on a rich layer of cumulatively inherited knowledge (eg: How do I cook the bone?). In fact, we realize that without Archimedes no Descartes, without Descartes not Newton, without Newton and not Einstein. And what do you think chess masters will do? Play other people’s games endlessly. In order to be creative you have to learn a lot first. This is because creativity is essentially, and perhaps exclusively, a reshaping of what already exists, adapted to changing circumstances. Language is more than just an endless puzzle game with existing bits of words, sentences, inflections, dialogues, and even stories. And it is the traditional characteristics of puzzle pieces, not the genius of the puzzle, that largely determine the possibilities, as linguistics in the twenty-first century becomes more and more elucidated.

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But, secondly, what we consider copying is also always some kind of creative work. This is also evident in the language. No nose is symmetrical, but if I ask you to point to your nose, you will know what to do. This is because you can make a translation between your previous experiences with the word on the one hand nose, the circumstances in which you encountered this word, the fact that noses were always involved, and, on the other hand, the circumstances of the moment, when the fleshy bulge in the middle of your face corresponds better to the charge that the word nose covers. Without a small spark of creativity, not everyone can achieve this translation. The same learning – what is the different tradition? – It is a creative process. When a person or other living being learns from experience, he is shown to be able to explain the present in the function of that experience, beyond the inevitable differences. Even a (usually) dishonest student has the credit for realizing that his neighbor is taking a similar exam.

This means that creation and copying are not the same, but they are related. You could even say that the goal of our creativity is to be able to copy, imitate, replicate and learn better. Our creativity underpins our ability to learn and our acquired knowledge in turn fuels our creativity. It is misleading to equate creativity with its most extreme consequences: the wonderful sensations that most of us usually await in vain. Our true creativity lies in our ability to learn and use what we have learned. So I don’t think the peek-a-boo hypothesis makes any real difference. What would it matter if a Neanderthal saw the bone carving of modern humans? This modern man just copied it from someone else. You can always steal from a thief, this is an honorable theft.

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Another thing: To cook the bones in the Stone Age, you do it in a leather bag filled with water, suspended over a fire.

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