In this paper, I draw on postphenomenology and material engagement theory to consider the material and emergent character of sociality in Homo faber. I approach this through the context of the bow and arrow, which is a technology that has received recent attention in cognitive archeology as a proxy for assessing criteria that made early human cognition distinct from that of other hominins. Through an ethnographic case study, I scrutinize the forms of knowledge that are required to use the technology in the dynamic field of environmental practices that constitute the hunt. I demonstrate that the learning of the skill is a transformational process where beginners develop self and intentionality by attuning subjective capacities for sensory awareness and creative responsiveness. Through mutual participation, the bow and arrow aligns disposition and rapport among those whose life processes are shaped by the skill. As a mechanism of shared experience, the bow and arrow generates a community can together perceive and act creatively in an impermanent world. Through these observations, I argue that early human sociality was built not on a pre-evolved capacity for symbolic representation but on technical experience, and I consider important questions this raises about the nature of evolutionary processes at work in the development of communities through time.
Philosophy & Technology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 10, 2018