The evolution of technicity: whence creativity and innovation

2007-06-11T14:40:18Z (GMT) by Mike Doyle
This paper introduces the concept of ‘technicity’, a term borrowed from philosophy but recast in an Darwinian mould. Firstly, however, the presumption that language is THE unique and pre-eminent human trait is put to the adaptationist test. Evidence from palaeontology, primate studies and evolutionary psychology is brought together to (tentatively) suggest that language (speech) has a deep evolutionary past and that all members of the genus Homo possessed speech in some form. The second section marshals evidence that suggests our species possesses a new ‘making things’ adaptation. This adaptation appears to be the basis for the speciation event that defines behaviourally modern humans: our species. This is the capability for which the term ‘technicity’ is appropriated. The argument for splitting off language from technicity uses the concept of the extended phenotype. Technicity might best be characterised by a creative capacity to: a) deconstruct and reconstruct nature, and b) communicate by drawing. The notion is floated that the newly evolved adaptation discretely insinuated itself into extant human culture; followed by brief consideration of the role of drawing, in the form of writing, on the precision and power of linguistic expression. It is suggested that technicity might usefully be considered the source of our intellect and language its whetstone. If further studies support the technicity hypothesis then reappraisal of conceptual framework underpinning the educational curriculum might be of benefit: a technology of language rather than the language of technology.