"[chimpanzee] politics"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 15 12:10:54 UTC 2010

Laurence Horn wrote
>  Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>We need to find out if Morgan was using "primate" to stand in for
>>"human" ... and what "descent" refers to.
> I have her book around somewhere but who knows=20
> where.  Its title is a pun on the (at least then)=20
> widely used locution "The descent of man" for=20
> evolution of humans; her point was that women=20
> played more of a role in this than men did,=20
> prompted by their need to care for infants, which=20
> caused women to spend a lot of time in the water,=20
> keeping the kids out of harm's way.  There was=20
> more to it than that, but it's a fun read as=20
> books on evolutionary biology go and actually=20
> more convincing than I can make it sound here.=20
(text clipped here)

Many thanks to Laurence Horn for his discussion of Morgan's book. I
think that the title "The Descent of Woman" is wordplay, as suggested,
transforming "The Descent of Man" by Charles Darwin.

I mentioned Morgan's work to provide evidence concerning when the term
"politics" was extended to apply to patterns of animal behavior
(setting aside whether this is an amelioration, or a pejoration). I
think that Frans de Waal's book "Chimpanzee Politics" shows that the
usage was established by 1982.

Below is another earlier possibility from 1968.

Citation: 1968, Violence, Monkeys and Man by Claire Russell and
William Moy Stratton Russell, Page 54 and Page 291, Macmillan. (Google
Books snippet view only)

But before we begin to examine the stresses and their action, we must
see how these societies work in ideal or near-ideal conditions, and
enter the strange but strangely familiar world of monkey politics. …

The selection of leaders, and the pressures upon them when in office,
have been scarcely less automatic in human societies: that is why
monkey politics look so familiar, and invite us to use words like
'establishment' in describing them.


The British Journal of Sociology has a review of the book in 1969.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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