The First Invention?

I’ve been musing about this the last week or so.  I think the most important invention of humans is this: creation, of durable things, for the benefit of others – in other words, making.

Think about it a little.  We humans are not the only species that uses tools, and it’s not just some other species of apes, there are some species of birds (crows come to mind) and I’m sure a few others as well.  But as best I understand current investigation, no other species has ever created a tool for future use as opposed to finding something close enough to the needs of the moment and then perhaps modifying it for the moment.

The closest I think other species comes to making are the construction of birds’ nests, or sleeping nests some apes use in the trees, or spider webs, or maybe prairie dog tunnel systems.  But they don’t have the same feel of creation and invention that I’m picturing. 

And it need not be specific to tools.  Cave paintings count as creation too, creation of something that endures past its initial moment of use for the benefit of, or at least observation by, others.

Somewhere along the way in our long history, someone made a figure in the sand to illustrate something, or put together some sticks and foliage to help carry another, or used a dead animal’s stomach to carry water.  Who knows?  Likely they didn’t even realize they had made something no one had ever made before.  Almost certainly, it was made too by others, and somewhere along the way the idea of making took hold.

Without it, we could never be what we are now.

Whoever that person is, certainly now forever unknowable, who first made something, I give thanks.  By sharing, she or he enriched us all.

Now, just imagine if that first creation had been patented.


About twio

In accepting Doubt, I find Certainty
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2 Responses to The First Invention?

  1. Eve Toseland says:

    I’ve thought that creativity is what makes us humans God-like for many years. I know how it makes me feel… it pleases me enormously to make something that A.N. Other can use in some way, be it a knitted jumper, a cartoon, a doll’s (lately a Sims) house, or a bit of writing (from a short stories to a pithy forum post) that Other can read//maybe even be amused by.

    Creation is also a healing thing in itself. When I was a little girl and sick with asthma (frequently) my wise mother used to suggest I crochet or knit – and it helped. You could argue that it helped by distracting me from the anxiety that traditional medicine considers part of an asthma attack, but reading or watching TV, though both distracting and easier, requiring less of my limited energy, at those times didn’t give the same improvement.) A friend with a similar pattern of recurrent asthma in childhood, would sketch at those times, feeling a similar improvement by making his pictures. I’ve seen the same effect in my own children; when unwell, absorption in say making a Lego house or robot, and maybe the joy of completion, clearly helped them feel better. I think it’s the absorption that makes the difference – it takes a special kind of concentration.

  2. Hello Ted
    I really like your writing and I agree with what you say. Inventions should be durable for future people. I like the way describe the art work done on walls. Also this article about healing, how to distract from anxiety.

    Awesome Writing
    Keep it up

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