[lit-ideas] Is "Homo sapiens sapiens" redundant?

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 12 Jul 2011 21:41:02 EDT

I am fascinated by L. J. Helm's commentary below  (in "Dogma", etc.). I 
will try to address his points at a later stage. In fact,  matter of course, I 
do find there's something delightfully redundant (not to  mention otiose) 
about 'sapiens sapiens'. The other day I was overhearing a  conversation, in 
English, at a restaurant. This speaker, not a native English  speaker, it 
seems, kept saying,

"very very nice"

"very very  intelligent"


It struck me that "'very very' nice" is possibly  otiose. "Awfully nice" 
sounds otiose, too --. In connection with  Grice,

"be brief" -- "do not be more informative than is  required",

it may be argued that 

'He is very very  nice'

behaves differently from:

"he is cute cute".


Of course, I am being jocular in that as Helm notes below, the point  
behind 'homo sapiens sapiens' is that it is a sub-species. -- And should NOT  
translate as 'very very wise'. Or something.

It was only recently that I  have become serious about 'homo sapiens 
sapiens'. I am starting to find stuff  like Darwin, "Expression of emotion in 
and animals" too indefinite -- seeing  that Darwin, of all people, should be 
more specific, if he can, as what he means  by 'man'. Or not, of course.




In a message dated 7/12/2011 9:26:08  P.M., lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Taking up your " . . .  He  indeed claims that evolution in homo sapiens
sapiens (he sometimes drops the  necessary second 'sapiens') . . .":  There
is indeed the theory that  homo Neanderthalis should be designated Homo
Sapiens Neanderthalis because he  preceded Homo Sapiens Sapiens in the
evolutionary tree.  This theory  demands the interbreeding of Homo Sapiens
Sapiens and Homo Sapiens  Neanderthalis with the former eventually surviving
through natural  selection.  

The second theory; which is the one I hold (for want of  a convincing
argument to the contrary) is that Homo Sapiens in conflict with  Homo
Neanderthalis defeated him and drove him along with the many species  he
hunted into oblivion (extinction).   

Here are two  discussions of the two theories:
http://www.pnas.org/content/96/13/7117.long  and

The theory you  present as "necessary" may eventually turn out to be the 
one, but unless  you are privy to later research than that represented by my
two references,  it isn't at this point "necessary."   Since both theories
are being  held by reputable anthropologists it would seem that both
expressions, "homo  sapiens" and "homo sapiens sapiens" ought to be
permitted, and, until some  proof can be produced indicating an evolutionary
transition from Homo  Neanderthalis to Homo Sapiens, I shall stick to the
more venerable "homo  sapiens."  

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