Could we return to a state of nature?

  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Age of Enlightenment
  3. » Could we return to a state of nature?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 04:14 pm
I have been reading Rousseau's Social Contract recently and his belief that we are equal and more or less better of in the state of nature experienced before civilised society was created. It is important to remember that the human population in Rousseau's state of nature would be very small, there would be little human contact, nothing like we experience today.

Is there anyone here who would actually prefer to return to a state of nature? Not necessarily Rousseau's state of nature... No government, each person would be able to do what they wanted, we would no longer be 'wage-slaves', no mobile phones or internet! We'd have to catch and make our own food. Belongings wouldn't be much of an issue.

Totally out the question or would this be a good challenge? I'm in belief that if we were born in such a state, it would be pretty simple. But to come out of the society we're in now and to enter such an atmosphere would be difficult for most human beings. More to the point, would people have total equality???


 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 04:54 pm
@Amerie phil,
Amerie;114094 wrote:
More to the point, would people have total equality???





Of course not. To think that people are equal in either talent or virtue is a fantasy only someone like Rousseau could come up with. No one believes that is true. Or even has any truth in it.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 04:58 pm
@Amerie phil,
We should return to the state of nature in the only sense possible, and that is through the recreation of natural forms...No law was ever so successful at mainting control as community was... No moral of the mind was ever as effective at maintaining peace as the morals of one community... The idea, is to build upon natural forms...Examine these in all of primitive society and you will find they were universally democratic...Only with the rise of civilizations could one man rise to possitions of power; and that was a weakness more than a strength for them...Look at the Incas and the Aztecs... They offered little resistence because their societies were already regimented, used to authority, so that a new boss could supplant the old boss with hardly a death to show for it...The problem is not a return to nature, but a consciousness of nature...Our societies live beyond the means of nature...What can we do about it if we know about it??? Because we are not democratic we cannot without a great expense of money and time even make it an issue...This means that rational action is out of the question...

Now, understand something...Primitive peoples having little of technology needed social organization...Their organization was their technology...But logic also springs from this period of mankind...Those people talked out the problems that confronted them and reasoned out all of their alternatives... They were more reasonable because they had to be... We do not think reason is required...We think instead, that the technology managed by a few will result is some salvation for harrassed humanity and nature... The problem with our government is that it does not protect the people, and it does not protect our environment and resources...Our government has sold off the commonwealth at every opportunity, and often provided the opportunity because they would not tax themselves...This land could support many more people than it does now because now it support some few in extravagance... There may well have been more natives in many Western States then there are all together today...And they were not destroying the environment in order to live... But life is not the goal of those who rule this society...Profit is the goal...

If we were a democracy, and we saw some purpose to some people owning hundreds of thousands of acres, then it would still be to support the whole people, which a few may well do more effectively...Not only should they be taxed, but the people should be certain they are being good stewards of the land and resources...They should learn that there is no advantage to squeezing the life out of the land...
 
William
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 05:08 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114101 wrote:
Of course not. To think that people are equal in either talent or virtue is a fantasy only someone like Rousseau could come up with. No one believes that is true. Or even has any truth in it.


Sometimes Ken, your ego truly amazes me? NO ONE, huh?

William
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 06:45 pm
@William,
William;114103 wrote:
Sometimes Ken, your ego truly amazes me? NO ONE, huh?

William


Of course not. Even children know that some people are stronger than others. Some are more intelligent than others. Some are nicer than others. Some are richer than others. Some know more than others. Who doesn't know that? What has that to do with me or my ego?
 
salima
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 09:00 pm
@Amerie phil,
i think the issue is that even though people are differently endowed with various attributes, that has nothing to do with their inherent value as human beings or even molecules. actually not only are all human beings equal, they are equal to rocks and gnats and banana trees in the cosmic or material sense...maybe even in a spiritual sense.

but it is interesting to look for the things that are worthwhile in every being ... there is always something. equality is just another word people use to fight about and freak out over. it is the judgment that one person is superior to another due to some quality or possession that causes the problems. it is the labels people attach to each other and themselves that they are fighting over.

---------- Post added 12-25-2009 at 08:37 AM ----------

oops-forgot what the thread was about...
i like the fact that the world has so many different levels of civilization that we can just about choose how much we want. living where i am there are very few food additives, i can buy whole grains and have them ground in front of my eyes if i wish., i can make butter from raw milk, i can buy pieces of cloth and have a tailor put together any style i wish or sew it myself.

i enjoy the challenge of working with limited utilities, such as electricity and water. i enjoy the challenge of making use of things which in a more affluent country would be discarded.

at the same time, i am able to have the electronics i find useful. but i do wish there were no motorized vehicles...cant have everything i guess.

but for all of humanity to become natural, i think that would require a rather large catastrophe, and even then i feel they would remember their prior toys and quickly find a way to reproduce thm all over again.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 24 Dec, 2009 10:03 pm
@Amerie phil,
People are equal by identity, just as all cats are equal by identity..A lion isn't a house cat, but each are equal...Do you suppose there is as much difference between people???Where the sense of inequality leads is to more inequality, because when people use the excuse of their strength, good looks or intelligence to set themselves apart, then the physical, or mental inequality becomes social, economic, and political inequality...

What does it take really, to govern ones self??? What does it take to express needs and preferences??? Even the most deprived among us can recognize their desires... But so long as the few, the blessed, the superior decide what the poor and disenfrancised need, they will not have what they need... If their children are born geniuses, will they have equal opportunity to the average children of the rich...

I must complain that people knew at an early age that I was intelligent even though I had difficulty learning... Well; we did not have a lot of money... My parents were playing Vatican Roulette, and my older brother was 80% paralyzed...So; I was not raised to my potential, and no one in society cared to make the case for me...It was presumed that I would be my brother's keeper, and a beast of burden...It was a unique experience that helped to make me unique... But if It had been presumed that I was equal, and had equal political rights which would have been reflected in economic equality, I might have got some help like a rich kid sharing my mental abilities would have...

Because we are equal by identity we are equal by definition, -all individual human beings....Does that mean exactly equal??? No; but equality is only a form, a moral form...If you would believe me; I once read a college medical textbook on the Genetic illnesses suffer by diaspora Jews from around the Mediterainian sea...The book pointed out that Jewish people would some times mate their deformed and retarded children, and get healthy and intelligent children from the mix...Now; few of us have the time tested genes of the Jews, and there is a genetic component to intelligence, but no one can say, based upon a single factor who will become a genius, and until people can say that, no one should be deprived of equality, social, political, or economic equality because the chances are that some of the best of minds will be occupied in trying to escape poverty to such an extent that they can do nothing of general good with their intelligence...The practice of social inequality, of hierarchies, of clubs and cliques that exclude is one that injures the whole of society, not only those who have the right to their own self government, but for those geniuses born out of the common man, and all those who might benefit by their intelligence...

Does anyone here feel smart???In this land, those with intelligence born without money must sell their souls for an education...Any one can tell I am uneducated, but I am also without an extreme of debt...I did not have to occupy my mind with some subject of little moral value in order to make my thoughts an article of commerce... But the fact is that many people are directed in their educations not to enlightenment, but enrichment, and in this they make many rich to have a living...I have seen people graduate as slaves, burdened with a mountain of debt, force to grovel and kow tow for opportunities...It is the fittest who help the less fit to rule over the whole bunch of us, and it is the sense we have, contrary to fact, that we are not equal... Just how different are we, and what does our differences really justify...Because from my perspective, intelligence is often revealed as no test would show; and I have met many highly intelligent and inventive people who never had any opportunity to reach their potential...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 03:34 am
@Fido,
There are inequalities but they are constantly in flux. Thus it is best not to make too much a fuss about either preserving inequalities that exist on the one hand or establishing equality on the other.

It is interesting to note that communication between equals is often very different than communication between unequals. Often ones feelings about equality/inequality are dependent upon the type of communication one prefers or is capable of.

Rousseau's noble savages didn't really communicate much with each other. One of the faults of Rousseau's version of the state of nature is that he seemed to envision the noble savages as walking around by them selves with little interaction. It was the coming of the collective, of society that ruined and corrupted the noble savage individual. Many of our modern conceptions of individualism can be traced back to Rousseau's solitary noble savage and the fall brought about by the coming of society.

Rousseau was of course pre-Darwin. Evolutionary scientists believe that humans evolved in small groups and that the social and collective aspects of the human experience have their roots far back in pre-human times. If this is the case, then Rousseau's solitary savage is pure myth. There is more credence to the idea that humans were meant to live with much smaller groups of people. The crowded mass experience of city life, the internet, and TV is a huge departure from this. I would advocate a return to living in smaller groups of interdependent individuals.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 08:22 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;114159 wrote:
There are inequalities but they are constantly in flux. Thus it is best not to make too much a fuss about either preserving inequalities that exist on the one hand or establishing equality on the other.



No one has talked about preserving inequalities, or establishing equality (whatever that means). But it is simply false that everyone is equal in abilities, talents, or virtue. Let's get that settled whatever else we want to say.

---------- Post added 12-25-2009 at 09:23 AM ----------

Fido;114134 wrote:
People are equal by identity, just as all cats are equal by identity..A lion isn't a house cat, but each are equal...


Right you are! A intelligent person is an intelligent person. And an idiot is an idiot.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 09:05 am
@Amerie phil,
I think Hobbes' portrayal of the state of nature was more accurate: life was "nasty,poor, brutish, and short" in his view, and everyone lived in a perpetual war of all against all. Crawling around the forest looking for grubs for a snack, leaving the elderly and the sick behind, and constant fear about beasts (both animal and human) attacking oneself and one's children, seems hardly a goal for humanity.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 09:29 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;114193 wrote:
I think Hobbes' portrayal of the state of nature was more accurate: life was "nasty,poor, brutish, and short" in his view, and everyone lived in a perpetual war of all against all. Crawling around the forest looking for grubs for a snack, leaving the elderly and the sick behind, and constant fear about beasts (both animal and human) attacking oneself and one's children, seems hardly a goal for humanity.


More accurate than Rousseau's idyllic description? Of course it was. Yet, people swallowed Rousseau because they wanted to believe it, and it fit their agenda. See the French revolution whose philosopher was Rousseau.While Danton, and Robespierre, were cutting off the heads of everyone in sight.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 09:35 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;114193 wrote:
I think Hobbes' portrayal of the state of nature was more accurate: life was "nasty,poor, brutish, and short" in his view, and everyone lived in a perpetual war of all against all. Crawling around the forest looking for grubs for a snack, leaving the elderly and the sick behind, and constant fear about beasts (both animal and human) attacking oneself and one's children, seems hardly a goal for humanity.
I agree. Stone age people couldn't pop in Mozart's Requiem any time they wanted. Or any time period.

Yet there are people who believe returning to a stone age existence would be good for life on earth. I've been friends with some of them... and they really are serious. They tend to focus of survival skills.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 09:43 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;114198 wrote:
I agree. Stone age people couldn't pop in Mozart's Requiem any time they wanted. Or any time period.

Yet there are people who believe returning to a stone age existence would be good for life on earth. I've been friends with some of them... and they really are serious. They tend to focus of survival skills.


Why would returning to stone age existence be good for survival skills? That is like saying we should contract cancer so as to learn to cope with cancer just in case we contract cancer.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 09:57 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114200 wrote:
Why would returning to stone age existence be good for survival skills? That is like saying we should contract cancer so as to learn to cope with cancer just in case we contract cancer.
Sounds like a cancer vaccine.

I wouldn't try to explain their viewpoint. To me it looks like what you get when you mix despair and testosterone. But for anybody interested in this facet of our society, any book by a survivalist named Tom Brown, and a good book called "Into the Wild" explores the true story of a young man who went out to the middle of Nowhere, Alaska and unfortunately, didn't survive.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 10:05 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;114201 wrote:
Sounds like a cancer vaccine.

I wouldn't try to explain their viewpoint. To me it looks like what you get when you mix despair and testosterone. But for anybody interested in this facet of our society, any book by a survivalist named Tom Brown, and a good book called "Into the Wild" explores the true story of a young man who went out to the middle of Nowhere, Alaska and unfortunately, didn't survive.


It isn't like a cancer vaccine. A cancer vaccine is not supposed to give you cancer.
Their view makes no sense. I can understand (but not follow) the idea that you should expose yourself to the rigors of nature, so as to toughen yourself up for the eventuality. But it is idiotic actually to cause the eventuality you are toughening yourself up to cope with.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 10:21 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114202 wrote:
It isn't like a cancer vaccine. A cancer vaccine is not supposed to give you cancer.
Their view makes no sense. I can understand (but not follow) the idea that you should expose yourself to the rigors of nature, so as to toughen yourself up for the eventuality. But it is idiotic actually to cause the eventuality you are toughening yourself up to cope with.
In a way, a vaccine gives your immune system exposure to the disease so it can learn to defend itself from it. That's what I meant. Hair of the dog that bit you...

The people in question don't exactly propose to bring about the end of civilization themselves. The background of it is varied. You could say it's the Cold War or environmental concerns. An example of the spirit of it is the notion that some viral disease could appear that would wipe out most or all humans. This virus is nature's answer to the plague of humanity.

But as I said, I can't speak for them. I believe that they represent a loss of hope that we can order our affairs intelligently... so we will implode as a species because of the potency of our stupidity. Hope is renewed in the image of help from some outside force. This fundamental theme has been appearing in imagery for more than 2000 years. So that's why I'm not one of them: I'm arrogant enough to think that I see what lies below it.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 10:28 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;114205 wrote:
In a way, a vaccine gives your immune system exposure to the disease so it can learn to defend itself from it. That's what I meant. Hair of the dog that bit you...

The people in question don't exactly propose to bring about the end of civilization themselves. The background of it is varied. You could say it's the Cold War or environmental concerns. An example of the spirit of it is the notion that some viral disease could appear that would wipe out most or all humans. This virus is nature's answer to the plague of humanity.

But as I said, I can't speak for them. I believe that they represent a loss of hope that we can order our affairs intelligently... so we will implode as a species because of the potency of our stupidity. Hope is renewed in the image of help from some outside force. This fundamental theme has been appearing in imagery for more than 2000 years. So that's why I'm not one of them: I'm arrogant enough to think that I see what lies below it.


A good reason for not being one of them is being able to distinguish end from means. They may represent a "loss of hope" as you say, I wouldn't know, but it is obvious that they represent a loss of commonsense. People often begin with the germ of a good idea, and then they go overboard.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 10:32 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114206 wrote:
A good reason for not being one of them is being able to distinguish end from means. They may represent a "loss of hope" as you say, I wouldn't know, but it is obvious that they represent a loss of commonsense.
Can't argue with that. Although I recognize that if we really did have to go back to the stone age, they're the ones carrying the memory of how to survive without civilization.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 10:38 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;114207 wrote:
Can't argue with that. Although I recognize that if we really did have to go back to the stone age, they're the ones carrying the memory of how to survive without civilization.


And the severe burn victim remembers how to survive with severe burns. But, people do not set themselves on fire on that account.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 25 Dec, 2009 11:10 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;114209 wrote:
And the severe burn victim remembers how to survive with severe burns. But, people do not set themselves on fire on that account.
What?

Living without civilization might be like being burned for you. That suggests that you wouldn't survive.
 
 

 
  1. Philosophy Forum
  2. » Age of Enlightenment
  3. » Could we return to a state of nature?
Copyright © 2019 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 03/23/2019 at 05:29:20