How much has the consciousness of the human race evolved say in the last 40,000 yrs when pictographic records?

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and art artefacts began to be kept? How do we objectively quantify and measure human consciousness of the human race.
If you have only a superficial interest or knowledge in anthroplogy, please move on and do not post .
Gary is correct. When I asked the Q, I was thinking of the prehistoric art found in the caves of Lascaux, which only takes us back to 13,000 BC or back 15,600 years ago from today. Pls give the error and adjust the Q appropriately if necessary or if you desire to.
The measurement of consciousness issue is my real focus.
The “beer theory indicates consciousness” is cute. But it doesn’t work for me, because there are lots of lower life forms on the evolutionary tree that like or seem to like ingesting alcohol found in fermented fruits. They have no consciousness like humans unless we redefine consciousness and extend it down the tree. Very creative hypothesis, though!, that deserves at least three stars under any other circumstances.

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Sky King

We can now look at pictographs on our I-Pods, that’s saying something!

james a

if you know something about the last 40,000 years that we don’t, why don’t you tell us about it


it didnt…we were given concience


Based on the relative similarities of current human populations, I doubt you could measure the differences. Some of these populations are likely separated by tens of thousands of years. There may be a higher percentage of really smart people now but there is no way to know. I find the dates of human consciousness measured by the finding of symbolic artifacts to be highly dubious, at best. I do believe they have somewhat discredited that whole line of reasoning by demonstrating how developed the hyoid bone is in neanderthals. They were likely capable of speech so speech likely goes back well before 500,000 years ago, the time of the common ancestor.

Gary F

You choose the standard Cro-Magnon Upper Paleolithic marker for modern Homo sapiens, but I’ve never been comfortable with it because it leaves about 30,000 years unexplained in terms of your question.
This first appearance of indisputably ‘modern’ human behavior is the development of agriculture 10-12,000 years ago. And, I think it unlikely that humans would know how to domesticate plants and animals — and then not do it for 30,000 years (from 40,000 until the agricultural revolution).
Just because the fossil record does not provide obvious anatomical evidence of significant human evolutionary change over that time period, it does mean that there was none. If Cro-Magnon (or whatever you want to call our Upper Paleolithic ancestors) had the same brain structure, function, and biochemistry; and possessed the same cognitive, linguistic, and symbolic thought ability as us, it is hard to imagine that it would take them 30,000 years to figure out how to make beer.
So, I think that the real change took place shortly before we see the evidence of early domestication. I don’t, however, have a good hypothesis for testing the idea. I mean, how would you prove it either way? I haven’t figured that part out.
wrageowrapper —
I feel your pain.
We cannot test, or even describe, something until we can define it — and, just because we develop a concept and give it a name, and even ponder its meaning — does not necessarily mean that it is real. Even something as seemingly certain as ‘time’ may, in fact, be nothing more than a product of the way the human brain connects, organizes, interprets, and understands multiple discrete spatial events.
The social/behavioral sciences of today are in something of the same position that the biological/life sciences were in during the early 19th century. Those early naturalists knew a lot — (they knew evolution was a fact because they could observe it in the fossil record) — but they could not explain what they knew, and they had no way to objectively evaluate the truth of the things they thought that they knew.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution did for biological science what Newton’s Theory of Gravity had done for physical science. Social/behavioral science has yet to achieve that level of understanding and degree of explanatory power.
I think (guess) that the spark igniting this next phase of the scientific revolution will come from advancements in the study of brain biochemistry (of which we know next to nothing), that will produce a theory or first principal that almost instantly will propel the science of human psychology/behavior from its current ‘Dark Ages’ fully into the realm of real science.
Finally, I also apologize for not directly answering the question, but I have an explanation for that — I cannot answer it because I do not know the answer. And, that’s the fact, Jack.
peternal —
Not exactly; the grassy Pleistocene steppes contained a mosaic of plant material that supported numerous megafauna like the mammoth, mastodon, and, saber-toothed cats. It was the warming and increased rainfall that helped drive them to extinction.
With the warm and moist temperatures following the Younger-Dryas, forests and grasslands more suitable to species like bison and moose expanded. The archaeological record reflects this in that we see a change in adaptation from a subsistence based primarily on big-game hunting (in America it is called the Paleo-Indian period) to one based on a broader hunting-gathering strategy (called the Archaic).
The archaeological record also shows that, almost without exception, hunter-gatherer populations were healthier than early agriculturalists. The only advantage agriculture provides is increased population density. The nutritional and health components are inferior to that provided by the more varied diets of hunter gatherers.
Early agriculturalists tended to focus on only one or a few dominant species. The ability to grow (in relative terms) a lot of something means you can feed more people (even if it is a piss-poor diet) as long as you have adequate supplies. But disease and crop failure can wipe out a population just as easily.
I’m inclined to think that humans developed agriculture simply because they could. It is in our nature to mess with the things in our environment. In any case, the complete transition from nomadic to semi-nomadic to predominantly sedentary to fully sedentary domestic crop and animal based subsistence is variable and did take some time. It takes species numerous generations to develop their domesticated morphology (and some, like figs, can take hundreds of years). If you have never seen early domesticated corn, the cobs are only a few inches long and contain pitifully small kernels.
And you are right; beer is a great way to preserve your grain crop and was the true staff of life.


Though it may well be possible to chart the technological developments of the human race (agriculture, buildings etc) it becomes near impossible to answer questions about human consciousness. The first thing you need to do, before looking at any evidence, is to define what you are classifying as consciousness. Biologically speaking consciousness isn’t evolved within the species, it would have been an evolutionary advancement from previous human ancestors. Or are you asking how can we look at art and be able to chart the development of human thought in the way that an art historian mmight examine techniques and conventions in style.
Sorry, iam not really answering anything here am I.


One key element which has not yet been mentioned, is that the advent of the Ice Age, appx. 12,000 years ago, and lasting nearly 2,000 years, was what precipitated the birth of agriculture…
Cro-Magnon & Neanderthals were Hunter/Gatherers in Europe, at least from 40,000 ago, and forward…
As the glaciers advanced, not only did they push people and animals southward, contributing to mass extinctions of both, but by the time the thaw began, Hunting & Gathering became a difficult livlihood, and surviving humans had to become innovative…Wild game had become insufficient!
So they watched hoofed animals eating grasses nearby to freshwater rivers and lakes, and upon closer inspection, these grasses contained grains, which were edible…
From grains came cereals, breads and finally beer..


I think a good way is to measure and quantify the evolution of human consciousness is by the degree of complexity and the technological levels at which pictographic records exhibit.
This would include the gradations of color, the source and application (including how the tools were produced to make the image), the level of detail and abstraction; if chemical modifications were used on the object (as in patinas) or if chemistry were used in the production of certain, say colors or diluent, and of course the source and choice of materials of the object – say stone (primitive) versus pure white, small crystal type Italian marbles (more advanced)…
What a great question!… and these are just preliminary thoughts.
(This thought, however, doesn’t apply to some of the most recent artwork produced which strives to reproduce in some art genres, a recreation of “primitive” art forms and techniques – say in the last 100 years or so.)


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