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#23751 - 10/05/07 09:38 PM Were we better off in a state of nature?
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Were we better off in a state of nature?

How credible was the concept of the Noble Savage?

The thing is that society is constantly changing. How can we create a stable society within such a dynamic world culture? We need an ideal as a North Star. An ideal does not depend upon what is or what was but upon what we want or what we need—hopefully that are similar.

I think that Socrates may very well be the first person to recognize what we need. Socrates recognized that the basic need was for wo/men to awaken their critical faculties. Socrates was perhaps the first to recognize that humans are too easily delighted by the praise of their fellows and that this sought after social recognition prevented their free and enlighten action. Humans need to share in a shared social fiction. The anxiety of self-discovery is a constant source of internal conflict for humans.

It appears that human play forms “may even outwit human adaptation itself”. The created fiction becomes more real than reality itself. New humans enter this world and immediately begin the process of survival which becomes “a struggle with the ideas one has inherited”. This fiction reality destroys our rational adaptive process which can react to the real world; we are too busy reacting to our fictional play.

Is it appropriate to say that the Amish might be considered to be the modern Noble Savage?

Is it possible that we could study the Amish as a means for creating a better society?



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#23755 - 10/06/07 08:54 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Tim Offline
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Registered: 08/16/06
Posts: 192
Loc: California
Yeah.

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#23759 - 10/07/07 02:03 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Tim]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Yes we could look at the Amish, who are people living in a modern society not noble savages. Personally I find the idea of savegery unappealing, noble or not.

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#23762 - 10/07/07 05:54 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Ellis]
MikeBinOK Offline
Member

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 67
Loc: Oklahoma
I've never found the Noble Savage concept convincing. People living in a primitive condition have the same strengths and weaknesses as other humans. They have fewer opportunities for intellectual development, and when they go bad they have a smaller scope to be bad in (same goes for those who are good, of course), that's all.
_________________________
Mike B in OKlahoma

"Never confuse with malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."


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#23763 - 10/07/07 12:07 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: MikeBinOK]
coberst Offline
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Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369

Bill Moyer has a video wherein he discusses the book “Amish Grace” that you might find to be very interesting regarding the Amish response to their tragedy. Compare that Amish response to their tragedy and the response of America to our 9/11 tragedy.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10052007/watch4.html

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#23764 - 10/07/07 01:41 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Amaranth Rose II Offline

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Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 962
Loc: Southeast Nebraska, USA
Would that we all could apply some of that grace in our everyday lives. Think what it could do for road rage!
_________________________
If you don't care for reality, just wait a while; another will be along shortly. --A Rose


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#23765 - 10/07/07 02:52 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
Rallem Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 194
Loc: South Royalton, Vermont
I personally think it is silly that a people would ever decide that at one point their technology has gone as far as it needs, and to stop advancing. It goes against the human nature to explore. This is just my opinion and I am in the process of writing a sci fi story where in it a scenario like this happens on a planet.


Edited by Rallem (10/07/07 02:57 PM)

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#23770 - 10/08/07 12:27 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
But is the response of the Amish, which I remember as impressive too, be because they are Noble Savages or just because they follow a life which does not glorify war, violence, soldiers, racism and sexualisation of children? Recently we here in Australia had a horrible murder case of a gentle young woman who was killed by a serial killer whist putting flowers on her grandma's grave. Her family's response was as impressive as the Amish. They wanted now to remember their daughter as she was, not as the murderer made her, and they expressed compassion for him. They were noble, but not savages. Nobility is expressed in our actions, not our cultural heritage.

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#23772 - 10/08/07 06:50 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Ellis]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: Ellis
But is the response of the Amish, which I remember as impressive too, be because they are Noble Savages or just because they follow a life which does not glorify war, violence, soldiers, racism and sexualisation of children? Recently we here in Australia had a horrible murder case of a gentle young woman who was killed by a serial killer whist putting flowers on her grandma's grave. Her family's response was as impressive as the Amish. They wanted now to remember their daughter as she was, not as the murderer made her, and they expressed compassion for him. They were noble, but not savages. Nobility is expressed in our actions, not our cultural heritage.


You are taking my words about savage and living in a state of nature too literally.

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#23774 - 10/08/07 07:30 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
I am taking your words at their face value.

Coberst said: "Were we better off in a state of nature?

How credible was the concept of the Noble Savage?"

I was answering those questions and personally I do not have any desire to return to a pre-civilised state where the description of life as being "nasty, brutish and short" seems only too accurate. If however you mean would be better if we lived a life which did not "glorify war, violence, soldiers, and sexualisation of
children" (amongst other things) I should probably agree with you. I would not however agree that we should all become Amish, because , much as I admire them, they deny the very thing that is best in humanity, that is the curiosity and zest we have for life, and the exploration of our world.

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#23777 - 10/08/07 09:09 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Ellis]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
I agree with Ellis. Pre-European Maori lived in a state of near perpetual inter-tribal warfare. However the evidence indicates this arose after they had been here several generations and the population had grown so much resources diminished or became extinct. A State of Nature is probably all very well if resources are unlimited. Unfortunately populations grow, and they usually grow too far.

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#23778 - 10/08/07 11:04 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: terrytnewzealand]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369

All animals, except humans, live in a total state of nature. All animals, except humans, are guided totally by instinct. Civilization is a mark of this transition from instinct to ego domination of behavior.

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#23781 - 10/08/07 08:43 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Coberst. I'm afraid I disagree to some extent. I'll take the liberty of changing your post a little.

"All animals, including humans, live in a total state of nature. All animals, including humans, are guided largely by instinct."

Some humans are capable of examining our existence through rational thought however. But we must accept we live as part of nature. Civilization's contribution has perhaps led to the belief we are somehow separate from it. Maybe that is our major problem.

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#23786 - 10/09/07 03:29 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: terrytnewzealand]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Civilisation is not innate but has to be learned by each generation, and it's evolution may be different for each succeeding generation. And having written that I am wondering what civilisation is! Perhaps it is a veneer, or a barrier between our needs and our wants. If that is so then we can be a noble or a savage and it has little to do with our level of 'civilisation' and more to do with our perception of self, community and the realisation, that as terry said, we are all part of nature. One natural disaster and we could be living in savage uncivilised conditions in New Orleans. How we behave then then is a choice we have to make ourselves, as many of our ancestors have before us.

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#23790 - 10/09/07 10:02 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: terrytnewzealand]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: terrytnewzealand
Coberst. I'm afraid I disagree to some extent. I'll take the liberty of changing your post a little.

"All animals, including humans, live in a total state of nature. All animals, including humans, are guided largely by instinct."

Some humans are capable of examining our existence through rational thought however. But we must accept we live as part of nature. Civilization's contribution has perhaps led to the belief we are somehow separate from it. Maybe that is our major problem.


My statement says that I consider a creature is living in a total state of nature when that creature is controlled by its nature and its instincts. Humans have an ego which stands in the way of instinctive behavior for humans. Animals other than humans do not have an ego. The more effect the ego has on human behavior the more civilized we become and the further removed from nature.

Instincts are the emotions that an animal is born with. Animals are hardwired with certain automatic control reactions. These emotions, i.e. these instincts cause the deer to run and the lion to fight.

Ego says, HOLD IT, TIME OUT!

The ego is our command center; it is the “internal gyroscope” and creator of time for the human. It controls the individual; especially it controls individual’s response to the external environment. It keeps the individual independent from the environment by giving the individual time to think before acting. It is the device that other animal do not have and thus they instinctively respond immediately to the world.

The id is our animal self. It is the human without the ego control center. The id is reactive life and the ego changes that reactive life into delayed thoughtful life. The ego is also the timer that provides us with a sense of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. By doing so it makes us into philosophical beings conscious of our self as being separate from the ‘other’ and placed in a river of time with a terminal point—death. This time creation allows us to become creatures responding to symbolic reality that we alone create.

As a result of the id there is a “me” to which everything has a focus of being. The most important job the ego has is to control anxiety that paradoxically the ego has created. With a sense of time there comes a sense of termination and with this sense of death comes anxiety that the ego embraces and gives the “me” time to consider how not to have to encounter anxiety.

Evidence indicates that there is an “intrinsic symbolic process” is some primates. Such animals may be able to create in memory other events that are not presently going on. “But intrinsic symbolization is not enough. In order to become a social act, the symbol must be joined to some extrinsic mode; there must exist an external graphic mode to convey what the individual has to express…but it also shows how separate are the worlds we live in, unless we join our inner apprehensions to those of others by means of socially agreed symbols.”

“What they needed for a true ego was a symbolic rallying point, a personal and social symbol—an “I”, in order to thoroughly unjumble himself from his world the animal must have a precise designation of himself. The “I”, in a word, has to take shape linguistically…the self (or ego) is largely a verbal edifice…The ego thus builds up a world in which it can act with equanimity, largely by naming names.” The primate may have a brain large enough for “me” but it must go a step further that requires linguistic ability that permits an “I” that can develop controlled symbols with “which to put some distance between him and immediate internal and external experience.”

I conclude from this that many primates have the brain that is large enough to be human but in the process of evolution the biological apparatus that makes speech possible was the catalyst that led to the modern human species. The ability to emit more sophisticated sounds was the stepping stone to the evolution of wo/man. This ability to control the vocal sounds promoted the development of the human brain.

Ideas and quotes from “Birth and Death of Meaning”—Ernest Becker





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#23794 - 10/10/07 04:18 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Ellis Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Coberst wrote--The ability to emit more sophisticated sounds was the stepping stone to the evolution of wo/man. This ability to control the vocal sounds promoted the development of the human brain.

So the deaf and non-vocal in our community are doomed! I do not think so.

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#23797 - 10/10/07 12:09 PM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Ellis]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: Ellis
Coberst wrote--The ability to emit more sophisticated sounds was the stepping stone to the evolution of wo/man. This ability to control the vocal sounds promoted the development of the human brain.

So the deaf and non-vocal in our community are doomed! I do not think so.


I would say that the human ability to control and emit sounds made it possible for humans to create a language. Having this language then made it possible for those who are deaf and dump can create a language of signs and thereby opening up to them the ability to join in the fun.

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#23800 - 10/11/07 03:38 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: coberst]
Ellis Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Coberst- you are not in fact talking about language but communication which can be verbal or non-verbal. Communication includes gesture, facial expression, hand movements, posture etc. It is understood both within and without species and has universal application. Such communication can be oberved in animals, birds and fish. The development of language allows for codification of information. This can be spoken, in the form of dance or perhaps written. Language is very isolating, It is only possible to be part of the fun if you understand the language, whereas non-verbal communication has endless possibilities.

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#23808 - 10/12/07 02:22 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: Ellis]
terrytnewzealand Offline
Megastar

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Coberst. I think you underestimate the number of humans who are "controlled by ... nature and ... instincts." We like to think we are above these but I doubt if we have removed ourselves as much as you imagine.

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#23815 - 10/12/07 10:11 AM Re: Were we better off in a state of nature? [Re: terrytnewzealand]
coberst Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 369
Originally Posted By: terrytnewzealand
Coberst. I think you underestimate the number of humans who are "controlled by ... nature and ... instincts." We like to think we are above these but I doubt if we have removed ourselves as much as you imagine.


We have a self-consciousness manifested in our ego whether we want it or not.

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