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  • The idea that humanity, unencumbered by civilization, is essentially good and uncorrupted. Still a prevalent myth in most Western cultures.

    "Everything is good in leaving the hands of the Creator of Things; everything degenerates in the hands of man."

    J. Rousseau, Emile

    October 25, 2007

  • Well, Rousseau got it half right ;-)

    October 25, 2007

  • I love to think about philosophy but don't like reading it. One of the few "greats" that I've spent any time on at all was Thoreau, who espoused a similar view of the evils of civilization. He was very poetic, which is nice, but he was still wrong. :-P

    October 25, 2007

  • Stephen Pinker did a pretty thorough debunking of this is "A Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human nature". For one thing, the murder rate of "savages" is astronomically higher than that of modern society.

    October 26, 2007

  • This is one of the things that bugs me the most about philosophy. Philosophers are only possible with civilization--you don't have time to sit around Thinking Big Thoughts if you're busy trying to survive from day to day. Which probably none of us, here, have had to experience--having won the Population Powerball by being born in the United States in the second half of the 20th century.

    Living outside of civilization is way overrated. It is difficult even to imagine how hard it would be, so I have trouble with people who try to ennoble it or make it sound like some kind of utopia.

    I also think of John Adams' lovely quotation:

    "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy (that is, natural philosophy--what we now call physical science). My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy (again, natural philosophy), geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

    You can't have great learning--or philosophy--without civilization. So any philosopher who declares the sort of "noble savage" foofoo just makes me... how did yarb put it? It makes my piss boil.

    *big smile*

    October 26, 2007

  • To quote Carl Sagan describing Thomas Jefferson:

    "Nature destined him, he said, to be a scientist, but there were no opportunities for scientists in pre-revolutionary Virginia. Other, more urgent, needs took precedence. He threw himself into the historic events that were transpiring around him. Once independence was won, he said, later generations could devote themselves to science and scholarship"

    October 26, 2007

  • There are more things in heaven and earth, c_b,

    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    October 26, 2007

  • Ceebee says it right. Notice how the myth of the "noble savage" increases in popularity the further removed from savagery society becomes.

    October 26, 2007

  • I am mad but north-by-northwest. ;)

    Anyway, it ain't MY philosophy, skipvia....

    Though I am quite fond of Macchiavelli's The Prince. Hell, I even like the name Macchiavelli.

    October 26, 2007

  • That's a great quote, c_b--and I agree. Thanks!

    You know, Machiavelli is really good with a delicate white sauce, too.

    October 26, 2007