“Krub kill Grog, so Krub get Grog meat!”
“Kill Grog bad, so Krub bad! Krub no get meat!”

– an early debate on the nature of justice and the monopoly on violence

Philosophy is a commonly recommended major for students who plan on going into law school, which makes sense considering how deeply philosophy delves into logic and argumentation. In fact, the orators of Ancient Athens could be considered the progenitors of the legal profession, being the best people around at the time to professionally argue for others. So, in a sense, one could say philosophers are the progenitors to lawyers.

On the other hand, philosophers – by their name – are “lovers of wisdom,” which would entail that the “first” philosopher was engaged in thought out of sheer passion for the practice. What I suggest in contrast is that Tok here (that’s the caveman on the left, their name is Tok, by the way) simply stumbled into his love for navel-gazing introspection of the human condition out of a cynical attempt to claim a dead man’s leftover meat. Based on prior incidents of death – wherein whoever happened to be nearby at the time to say “dibs” would then lay claim to the dead’s possessions – Tok reasons that he may take Grog’s meat as soon as Grog has shuffled his mortal coil.

Kurk, however (the caveman on the right, his name is Kurk, he also happens to be the first doctor, by the way), objects to Tok’s claim. Yes, by “Law of Dibs” (they didn’t have the concept of law then, just “stuff that everyone kinda just agreed we should keep doing,” but in retrospect, we may observe this practice as a primitive form of “Law”), Tok may claim Grog’s meat after Grog’s death, but Grog isn’t dead yet. Grog’s skin still glows with the rosy hue of vitality, however it may be fading for the moment, and the tribe has generally considered one “dead” once the skin reaches a specific degree of sallowness.

But what’s it matter, Tok asks, whether the skin has yet to be drained of its flush? At this point, everyone understands Grog will be “fully” dead by sunrise, if not earlier – if one will unquestionably be “dead” within a specific time frame, surely they must have already reached death at a prior instance. Perhaps, even, this man is dead already, but our understanding of death is incomplete and must be expanded.

Tok pauses; what began as a sly attempt to stake first claim on some meat has become something more. Tok has never really questioned the nature of death and what it is to be dead. Thus, Tok has never really considered what it means to live and to be “alive.”

Kurk grunts and leaves the scene, “Fine, take Grog meat.” Tok enjoys a feast that night, but finds the flavor lacking. Tok’s belly is full, but there remains a hunger for something more.

– James