Thursday, August 11, 2005

Sharing food as a social aspect and the division of labor

Matt Riddley writes in his book “the origins of virtue” about food sharing, especially about the differences in meat sharing and berries sharing. I myself believe that the explanation delivered by Matt Riddley is not fully correct; there might be much easier and, at least to me, much more plausible explanation. It is logical to share meat, based on economical idea of waste. If a hunter in a hunter-gatherer society succeeds in catching a bigger prey, say a deer, and he would not share, he would need a refrigerator for the rest of the meat that he cannot eat at once. At that time there were no refrigerators. So it would be a waste not to share. Gathering berries is a different story. If the female goes to the forest to get some berries, mushrooms or roots, she can always bring pretty much the amount of it which is currently needed. Therefore there is no need for sharing the results of the gatherer, but there is a huge economical need for sharing meat. Of course, as usual, it is possible to “misuse” the surplus of meat by offering it to the neighbor, in order to establish good social relations, and make sure that the neighbor will be also willing to share with me, if once I return from the hunt with no prey caught.

I suggest here an idea which I have for a long time, and idea that one phenomenon in human life can be used in manifold ways. Typical is that sometimes something happens really accidentally, but having seen what can happen humans than can create the same or extremely similar phenomenon, situation themselves to achieve the same or pretty similar wished outcome.

So meat sharing is actually a “misuse” of a lucky hunter to bind his neighbor to repay the “service”. The lucky hunter would always have the possibility of not sharing and letting the prey decay, but this is a waste, so sharing meat is actually one first step to division of labor among hunters. One can specialize in hunting big game, the other in getting smaller animals.

Meat sharing and the economic idea of wasting the meat if not sharing are actually memes, ideas; and they came to being through adaptedness of human mind to its surroundings. So we can see how some memes come to being, I suggest that first was the idea of waste, and then the idea of avoiding the waste by sharing, and sharing brought about the idea of reciprocity


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?