Sunday, November 25, 2012

On animals and tools (OUP)

Try this experiment: Ask someone to name three tools, without thinking hard about it. This is a parlor game, not a scientific study, so your results may vary, but I've done this dozens of times and heard surprisingly consistent answers. The most common is hammer, screwdriver, and saw, in that order.

We seem to share a basic understanding of what tools are and how they're used. This may be only natural; tools fill our lives. It's hard to imagine going through your daily routine without them. You can't brush your teeth or comb your hair; locked doors stay locked; meal times, in the preparation and the eating, are messy affairs. As Thomas Carlyle said, "Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all."

Read the rest on the OUPblog, "Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World."

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