Weapons in and as History: On the Ontogenerative Function of Materialized Preemption and Intelligence in Weapons Technology

  • Davor Löffler Independent Researcher
  • John J. McGraw California State University, Northridge
  • Niels N. Johannsen Aarhus University
Keywords: weapons technology, cultural evolution, cumulative culture, emergence, civilizational history, intelligence, cognitive evolution, preemption, temporality, military history, history of ideas, hominization, co-evolution

Abstract

Weapons technology is a key factor contributing to cultural evolution because it enables humans actively to protect themselves from a variety of natural threats and expand their access to resources. In contrast to non-military technologies, the purpose of which is to subordinate and shape inanimate, non-intentional or trivial, regular states, weapons primarily serve to assert one’s own will against self-determined, intentional and non-trivially acting organisms. This functional idiosyncrasy establishes the basis for a continuous arms race, which begins with the need to anticipate phenotypical and mental abilities of animals and other humans through weapons technology before leading to the anticipation of attack and defence capacities of groups and, ultimately, the anticipation of accumulated intelligence and productive accomplishments of entire political states. The dynamics of development in weapons technology prove that weapons are simultaneously an index and a motor of cultural and cognitive evolution. Weapons reflect the organizational and technical capabilities of cultures, indicating special cognitive capacities bound up with the abstract anticipation of enemies as well as the ability to produce mental models of complex adversarial entities. At the same time, weapons relay intercultural and internal selection pressures by playing a decisive role in the processes of general technological and organizational innovation. This innovation also influences the formation of practices, norms, motives and self-images. As such, weapons technology concretizes an integral principle governing cultural evolution and civilizational history.

Author(s): Davor Löffler, John J. McGraw and Niels N. Johannsen

Title (English): Weapons in and as History: On the Ontogenerative Function of Materialized Preemption and Intelligence in Weapons Technology

Journal Reference: Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 16, No. 1-2 (Summer - Winter 2019)

Publisher: Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities - Skopje

Page Range: 68-77

Page Count: 10

Citation (English): Davor Löffler, John J. McGraw and Niels N. Johannsen, “Weapons in and as History: On the Ontogenerative Function of Materialized Preemption and Intelligence in Weapons Technology,” Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, Vol. 16, No. 1-2 (Summer - Winter 2019): 68-77.

Author Biographies

Davor Löffler, Independent Researcher

Davor Löffler is a lecturer in history of knowledge and epistemology at Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany, and a teacher at the interdisciplinary research platform The New Centre for Research and Practice. He earned his PhD in Sociology from Free University of Berlin with an interdisciplinary thesis on the shift of social structures, cognition and temporality in the Technological Civilization. Previously he worked as lecturer in Sociology and Philosophy at the BTK University of Art and Design, Berlin, and collaborated in various interdisciplinary working groups such as the Mind Machine Project at the MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, the Interacting Minds Center, Aarhus, Denmark, and the Role of Culture in Early Expansions of Humans Group at the Institute of Prehistory, Tübingen, Germany. He is author and editor in the field of cultural theory and philosophical anthropology.

John J. McGraw, California State University, Northridge

John J. McGraw (1974-2016) was an anthropologist who worked in Latin America and studied material and cognitive aspects of rituals, religion and social interaction. He did long-term field work in the Guatemalan highlands and was intensely interested in divination, knowledge, decision-making and joint action as well as long-term trajectories in the interaction of technology, cognition and social organization in human evolution and history. At the time of his much too early passing, John was an Assistant Professor at California State University, Northridge.

Niels N. Johannsen, Aarhus University

Niels N. Johannsen is an Associate Professor at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies and the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University, Denmark. He received his degrees from Aarhus and Cambridge, with research stays in Edinburgh and Oxford, focusing on environmental and cognitive archaeology, the Neolithic of Europe and the relationship between technological and wider cultural change. He is particularly interested in interdisciplinary research efforts - understanding the epistemological and cultural prerequisites of such collaborations and making them work in practice. His current research includes collaborative projects involving palaeogenetics, geoscience, physics and experimental cognitive science.

Published
2019-12-28
How to Cite
Löffler, D., McGraw, J., & Johannsen, N. (2019). Weapons in and as History: On the Ontogenerative Function of Materialized Preemption and Intelligence in Weapons Technology. Identities: Journal for Politics, Gender and Culture, 16(1-2), 68-77. Retrieved from http://identitiesjournal.edu.mk/index.php/IJPGC/article/view/373