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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: April 2020

9 - Teaching Stone-Tool Making

from Part III - Non-symbolic Behaviours

Summary

Chapter 9 focuses on an inference about Neanderthal language drawn from data about the experimental teaching of stone-tool making to modern humans. Comprising three inferential steps, the knapping-pedagogy inference looks as follows in outline: Experimentally gathered data about the transmission of Oldowan technology to modern humans → Verbal language enhances the transmission of Oldowan technology to modern humans → Verbal language originated hundreds of thousands years ago as a prerequisite for Acheulean technology → Some Neanderthals had verbal language. There are various reasons for doubting the soundness of this inference. First, its empirical grounding is contentious: some experimental studies have found verbal interaction to be unnecessary for teaching knapping skills, even causing underperformance by modern learners. Second, Chapter 9 finds the inferential steps to lack the required logical force. For instance, it cannot be inferred that verbal language was a prerequisite for teaching knapping technology to modern humans from data that it only enhances the teaching of such technology to modern humans. This logical flaw leaves the final inferential step ungrounded.