Continuum of social, a hypothesis of the hunter and the “monkey killer”

Before it became the naturalism to the mid-NINETEENTH century, especially before Darwin and Freud to formulate their grand theories, the social character of the human is seen as a barrier between us and the rest of living beings. In contrast, the theory of the “continuum social” or “continuous social” tries to demonstrate the reality that human beings belong to the global logic of the social.

The anthropologist american Jean Liedloff (1926-2011) to the mid-TWENTIETH century departed in search of diamonds in the amazon jungle, there he discovered another kind of treasure: the Yequana, a tribe that fell in love and maintained a long coexistence. After the discoveries that had been observed in the Yequana, wrote his book The Concept of the Continuum: In search of the welfare lost (1975) [1]. I make below a quote from the book that may help us to better understand the theory of the “continuum”social :

We can only try to guess what it was that interrupted our innate resistance to change, few thousand years ago. The important thing is to understand the importance of evolution in the face of change (not evolve). … [Last] replaces what is complex and adapted with what is simpler and less adapted.

Jean Liedloff says “attempt to guess“; to something like referred to in Jose Felix Tezano, s, in his book The explanation of sociological [2], when he explains that the process of evolution, still full of huge informational gaps, can be reconstructed through a “line of points” that define the master lines of the long process of hominization. According to Tezanos, to be able to analyze the plausibility of the hypothesis of the continuum is social, it is necessary to know the true social nature of the species of hominids that came before us (oreopithecus, ramapithecus, austrolopithecus, homo habilis, etc).

It is estimated that homo sapiens has lived on Earth more than 150,000 years, and that the first hominids arose approximately four million years. By which the process of hominization is a process which is very long in time, hence it is normal that we have many informational gaps, and that make difficult the comparisons accurate between human societies and primates. However, thanks to studies ethological recent on the social life of various species of animals, we have developed new analysis on the social reality of the man. In short, the theory of “continuous social” is to find the common thread of certain societies of animals, funadamentalmente of primates, with human societies.

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), with their interpretations of the social evolution of human in relation with the perspectives of biological which represented the theories of Darwin, was perhaps the first to open the debate on the “continuous social”. In this way began to be interpreted as an offence to the reason of being human, resulting in resistance psychological of origin narcissist, as proposed by Freud. In this sense, The hypothesis of the hunter (Robert Adrey, 1976) [3] causes a certain rejection since part of the idea that the practice of hunting played a critical role in the process of homonización. So, the way it attempts to explain the origins of the organization, social human, also becomes that their survival was influenced by a component which is aggressive and violent.

We can also say that the debate on the “continuous social” took more strength because many comparative studies between the social reality of man and animals, is founded more on differences than on similarities, committing in addition to a great error by not taking as a reference of comparison to the primitive human societies.

Of the hypothesis of the hunter, Adrey derive a new: the hypothesis of the monkey assassin (Robert Adrey, 1976):

… if among all the members of the primates the human being is unique, even in his noblest aspirations, this is because only we, through countless millions of years, we were continuously forced to kill to survive […] man is man, and not a chimpanzee, because for millions and millions of years of evolution has killed for a living. [4]

At the end of the first semester of the academic year 2009/2010 of Sociology at the UNED, and is A companion with whom I held an exchange of views on this hypothesis, I made the following question: Up to what point is true that man is the only being who exerts the violence to conscience, and where we can take such action if we are confident that we continue to evolve as primates?

Tezanos, in his book above quoted, explains that the man is the only being of its kind that is organized for the war. In regard to the animals, the animals manifest their violence in the defense of territory and vital space for their own subsistence and to preserve the natural resources of their habitat. One can hardly speak about war within the animal world.

In the human being, the concept of war, to be part of the organization that has developed the man to do it, its causes have gone beyond the simple defense of territory or the struggle to dispose of natural resources. The war was taking shape as an instrument within societies to rebel, against established powers, that is to say, to the abolition of models of the organization of which some sectors were not in agreement. Ideologies and religion have also been grounds for war.

The origins of war in human societies has a character very primitive. There are not a few anthropologists who argue that the war was a common practice among hunters and gatherers, prehistoric. Even so, the archaeological indications are, at times, unconvincing, since the skulls mutilated found in caves have been interpreted rather as evidence of cannibalism or cultural traits of their own as acts of war.

On the second part of the question that made me my companion: “whatto where we can take such action if we are confident that we continue to evolve as primates?”, I think that the answer is not easy, if we have to do it on the basis of the time scale in which it has significance to the human evolution from the point of view psicobiológico, which are many thousands of years, as we have already said. However we should not fall into social darwinism, that is to say, in the belief that social evolution can only be explained through the laws of biological evolution. In the middle of last century the interpretation of deterministic biological elicited many types of reflections that had its reflection, for example, in books well known as A happy world of Aldous Huxley (1932) [5], even on the big screen, such as the famous pelícua The mechanical orange of Stanley Kubrick (1971). Both examples represent clear essays that call into question the idea that the violence or viciousness of the man; the suponerlas as intrinsic to the very biological nature of man, what would happen if scientific advances could be eliminated?


Ruben Crespo
January 20, 2012


1. Liedloff, J., & Marti, N. (2009). The concept of the continuum : in search of the well being lost. Editorial Ob Stare, S. L.

2. Tezanos, J. (2006). The explanation is sociological: an introduction to sociology. National university of Distance Education.

3. The hypothesis of the hunter was the goal that the anthropologist Sherwood Washburn tried to develop back in 1956. Later Richard Borshay Lee and Irven DeVore, published in the year 1968, a book entitled Man The Hunter where, through his field work and research are strongly supportive of this theory of the man-hunter who then popularizaría greatly with the publication of a book by the writer and essayist Robert Adrey in 1976 entitled The Hunting Hypothesis, the source of many amateur anthropology that without being neither researchers nor anthropologists are interested in the evolution of their ancestors.

4. Ardrey, R., Míguez, N., & Miguez, N. (s. f.). The evolution of man : the hypothesis of the hunter. Alianza Editorial, SA

5. Huxley, A., & Hernandez, R. (2005). A happy world. Editorial Planeta DeAgostini, SA

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