_Determination on the right hand

The right hand was humanized by determining the possibilities presented by the left hand.

In the previous chapter we saw that the left hand offered possibilities to the right that its cerebral hemisphere was capable of perceiving. In the previous chapter we saw that the left hand offered possibilities to the right that its cerebral hemisphere was capable of perceiving. The pragnanz makes it easy for the artisan to intuit a stone or a bone as a tool.

But the pragnanz is as ephemeral as some fairies dancing in a forest clearing. By itself, it dissolves into nothingness.

Hegel (1) elegantly said: The “Being, the immediate indeterminate, is in reality nothing, neither more nor less than nothing.”

But our hominin ancestors were practical beings to discover that the stones and bones had teeth that had not yet come out. They had not been able to read Hegel, because they could not read, or speak, and because Hegel had more than two million years to write The Science of Logic. But they did not need it.

What was in practice was how to get the edge to the stones, to make cuts. That said, it sounds complicated. It’s actually simpler than it seems, but I have to explain it with a history of jails and prisoners.

The cut

In jail knives and any sharp tool are forbidden. A prisoner has no way to cut a piece of cheese, nor with what to slit the face of an opponent, before he breaks it to him.

In such conditions language is reborn, as it already happened in the African savanna. The prisoner does not beating about the bush. A cutting edge can be used to cut cheese or whatever it takes. There comes into play the pragnanz. When a prisoner sees a piece of metal he is already seeing a (cutting) edge in it. Hegel would say: The being (“being an edge “) is still undetermined. The prisoner would say: it is an edge not yet sharp.

To become a cut, you have to sharp the edge. The prisoner sharp the edge by scraping the piece of metal against a stone. Just as the hominin extracted the hidden edge in a stone, hitting it with another stone.

To complete their work, artisans need determination. This is: resolution to move forward, because both are playing: the hominin, because there are predators hanging around. And the prisoner, for the same reason.

We find here again an objective and subjective double dimension. We saw that pragnanz is the influence that pushes us from a form to another simpler. But that is also, at the same time, the existential experience of feeling engaged in the task.

Determination is also double: on one side, what determines the being, transforming it into being determined. And, at the same time, it is the existential attitude of determination to move forward, blow by blow, until reaching the goal that completes the task.

The executive brain (2)

The cerebral hemisphere that manages the left hand was occupied (and continues so) with accumulating vital experiences presenting new situations as a cloud of possibilities.

The hemisphere that handles the right hand completes the task determining its possibilities. Some as essentials and denying the others. The essential possibilities provided by the left hand are in the raw material, the point at which it must strike and the angle of attack, both critical.

With these data the right hand receives from its cerebral hemisphere the order: – “Now!”, To start hitting and maintaining a beat rhythm until completing the transformation and reaching the goal: in the example, a sharp edge.

Only the collaboration between the two cerebral hemispheres with very differentiated functions could achieve that, in the evolutionary history of life, new phenomena of such complexity arise.

Since then, the possibilities detected -on the one hand- and the determination of being -on the other- merge into a new mode of perception that constitutes human consciousness. This includes the objective knowledge of the essential qualities of the object, as well as the decisive subjective perception of the particular situation experienced by the artisan subject.

Currently, scientists from disciplines as diverse as archeology, neurology, psychology, sociology, linguistics, anthropology and sociology, collaborate researching brain scanning technologies, asking new questions that 50 years ago were unimaginable.

The new elements emerged from the manufacture of tools, gradually shaped the human dimension of the mind of the hominins. How? In several directions: in social communication, providing meanings; in knowledge, contributing concepts. In the brain, by activating sets of neurons that leave detectable signals with current exploration techniques.

In the philosophy of logic born in Greece 2,200 years ago, these elements were called qualities and concepts. In 1812 (1) Hegel called them more generally: determinations. A century and a half ago, Spinoza (3) had prepared the ground, writing: “All determination is negation”; which practically means: “By building something with blows, you destroy what you have in your hands”. Or also, that by abstracting something you are denying everything else (making it invisible).

Why did it take so long to understand things that in practice were and are so simple? Because in ancient Greek times, manual labor was belittled as slaves. And the slaves were invisible, except when they rebelled (something women know from their own experience). Twenty centuries later, work no longer belittled so much, but it was still believed that thought is born of some higher being, be it God or a philosopher.



Without the need for philosophers, who had not yet been born, and after building their first tools (weapons), the hominins began to communicate in human language; and the first word they said was “No”. What should not be surprising after what I have said about slaves and handmaidens. Or the prisoners: because to put an sharped edge in the throat is a strict way to say: “No”. All words are cutting: and the “No” is the sharpest of all.

Logica conjuntos NOT

In the mid-nineteenth century the mathematical theory of sets was discovered. And with it, that the most important operation on a set is negation: because it determines what that set is not; what in a graphic representation is outside it: what it excludes The hemisphere that controls the right hand takes over this operation and all the others; which, little by little, were calculated mentally and socially communicated, represented by words and by the syntax of the language: the calculation is part of the rational human thought, of which we will deal later.

Also women of the 21st century have learned from experience that their freedom and independence means saying “No!” And, if the interlocutor does not understand it, it is necessary to insist that “it is not no”. And they also learn that, sometimes, even that is not enough to make the cut. I’m not saying that they should start to cut the face of any scoundrel. But yes, learn from the hominins: that when they went out through the savanna, they did it in a group; and they did not separate: because you have to take care of the beasts and more if they come in a herd.

The next chapter: Social Intelligence, explains how individual intelligence was deployed by the social intelligence of the first humans.

See Chapter index


Current chapter NOTES

[1] G. W. Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) German philosopher, who developed the idealist dialectic. One of Hegel’s major works is The Science of Logic, in which chapter I deals with the determination of being.


[2] The left hemisphere that controls the right part of the body is considered the executive part of the brain. “The executive brain” (2001) is the title of a book by neurologist Elkhonon Goldberg, who is also the author of the theory about the novelty and routine in the brain.

Spinoza[3]  Spinoza: “All determination is negation”. This is the foundation of Hegel’s subsequent dialectic.

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