Josh BeckmanActually, it reminds me in some ways of things that you find in non-literate or non-technological cultures—what are called “primitive” cultures—where for example, you get extremely elaborate kinship systems. Some anthropologists believe these systems have to do with incest taboos and so on, but that’s kind of unlikely, because they’re just elaborated way beyond any functional utility. And when you look at the structure of them, they seem like a kind of mathematics. It’s as though people want to work out mathematical problems, and if they don’t have calculus and arithmetic, they work them out with other structures. And one of the structures everybody has is relationships of kinship—so you work out your elaborate structures around that, and you develop experts, and theories, and so on. Or another thing you sometimes find in non-literate cultures is developments of the most extraordinary linguistic systems: often there’s tremendous sophistication about language, and people play all sorts of games with language. So there are puberty rites where people who go through the same initiation period develop their own language that’s usually some modification of the actual language, but with quite complex mental operations differentiating it.

📕Noam ChomskyUnderstanding Power