Issue with first transition

It is said that the transition from Aware to Awakening is triggered by the use of tools. I have a question: Why? Is the usage of tools really what defines a species as sapient?

Let’s take the example of sea otters. It is said that sea otters have a ventral pouch, which is used to store food but also rocks. They use those rocks to bust open crustaceans’ shells. Does that make them sapient?

One thing to note is that sentience is not sapience in my eyes. Sentience is somewhat difficult to define, but I do know that every animal with a central nervous system is sentient. These animals are aware of their own survival and that of their enemies or peers. On the other hand, sapience is more advanced as its name suggests. I’m assuming that all humans are sapient and maybe advanced artificial intelligence forms, but that is another subject to debate given we have no proof whatsoever. Humans use tools, just like some other animals. But what makes us so different?

Reason might not be what we’re looking for because animals need reason to survive. If they had no reason, they would always make nonsensical decisions leading to their own death. Emotion isn’t a human-only factor because most vertebrates, wild or domesticated, can feel basic emotions (fear, wrath, sadness, happiness) and pain. There is one more quality that I don’t think has been shown in other animals : morality. As far as I know, humans are the only animals who can value abstract concepts such as safety, freedom and others. Of course, there are human individuals who do not value anything morally speaking. Otherwise, this all leads me to propose that some neurological factors leading to morality could be an option.

However, I still think that tools can be a better transition as I don’t know if early hominids even had morality. Besides, early hominids would also craft tools but the problem is that the stage’s description doesn’t state that the player can still evolve. Following this logic, this means that the first hominid species to craft and use tools would be the only one alive today, which renders the stage somewhat inaccurate.

Feel free to discuss.


I suggest you read Sapiens. It’s a good book and kinda says that what makes us sapiens so smart is two things. Our advanced languages. It requires us to learn them, sure, but the bandwith is great and it can handle abstract concepts. Thing two is story telling. In the long term all it is is the ability to form and respect abstract things. I’d say if you have both of these and tool use you are Sapient.


The wiki to the rescue!

The Awakening Stage begins when the player’s species achieves sapience

And there we have it, the stage begins once the player species has enough brain power to start thinking about the world and “awakens” into sapience.


I personally would make the argument that it’s not tool use in and of itself that makes a species sapient. Rather, it’s the overarching ability to manipulate the local environment in creative (or novel) ways. It’s the difference between otters, who while they use stones to break shells but don’t, say, use a lever to do the same, and ravens, who will use oncoming traffic to break the shells of nuts and then attempt to use other extant human equipment to do the same.

Language is useful as a method of passing on these creative applications - an octopus will do attempt to repurpose bits of their environment into tools, but they don’t pass on this information from generation to generation - this keeps an octopus that happens to figure out light switches (yes, they do that, also open locked doors) from passing on the knowledge.

You can look at sapience as a spectrum, where there’s a combination of traits.
Think of it this way: Otters and octos would be in the beginning of awakening stage. Somehow, some way or another, have discovered tool use. However, otters are only very slowly (if it all) expanding their interactions with other objects - their niche doesn’t require it so instead they pass on what tools they do use (rocks, seaweed) from parent to child.

Octos, on the other hand, have excellent amounts of creativity and interaction with the surrounding world. They test and interact with the environment, learning and becoming more able to intelligently change it to suit their needs. However, a lack of communication prevents these lessons from being passed on, resulting in endless repetition of the steps needed to effect the world.

Further on, we have ravens, elephants and dolphins. All utilize objects and opportunities in their environment to create novel ways of interacting with the world, whether this be for resource acquisition or entertainment. Both pass down lessons from elder to younger, if in different ways. In the case of corvids and dolphins regional accents (implying forms of language, even if comparatively primitive) have developed. Complex social networks (even involving alien intelligence, i.e. us) form. I’d almost peg these as looks at the very beginning of the transition to tribal stage, just that the niche is kinda already occupied by humanity.


There is still one problem, though. It states that this stage ends the evolution of the species. However, if you look at humans and older hominids, Awakening has started even before us humans arrived, yet it didn’t stop the evolution from hominids to humans and neanderthals.

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The idea is that once you reach sapience, you are pretty quickly going to build your society center, which means that the timescales have already shrunk way down, so no major evolutionary changes can happen anymore.

Proposal : does that mean that earlier hominids including ones who have used tools would in the Aware stage?

I propose that they’d be in the midst of transitioning.


I think sapience is when a creature develops meta-thinking or thinking about thinking not tool use or something like that


Appearance of philosophy perhaps? Thinking about our purpose…

maybe but the start of philosophy is way after the first hunter gatherers where I think the stage may start

In my opinion all you need to qualify for philosophy is a few existential crisises.