Re: [xmca] The myth of the noble savage

From: Aleksandar Baucal (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2007 - 03:18:51 PST

I take a look at the article and I found Pinker's ideas as a good
illustration of socio-cultural explanation of human mind.

"This doctrine, "the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and
corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of
public intellectuals like José Ortega y Gasset ("War is not an instinct
but an invention"), Stephen Jay Gould ("Homo sapiens is not an evil or
destructive species"), and Ashley Montagu ("Biological studies lend
support to the ethic of universal brotherhood")," he writes. "But, now
that social scientists have started to count bodies in different
historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets
it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in
modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler."

If I would use Vygotsky conception as mediator of my reading I would say
that it fits to idea that communities develop new mediation tools
modifying our behavior in better or worst direction (the evaluation
heavily depends on many things). Through evolution our biology might be
shaped in such way to support "constructive" and "destructive"
activities as well as different communities can share ideas that can
organize human activities in constructive and destructive ways. When we
come to the political level, especially to actual wars, we can see the
power of this idea. Political marketing is in a way sign/meaning
engineering. In other words their goal is to design set of meanings
which would direct and guide our thinking, feeling and activities to fit
to political interests. Of course if we appropriate this set of meainings.


Phil Chappell wrote:

> Steven Pinker writes a piece claiming the "leftist anthropologists'
> celebration of the noble savage" was mistaken and that we are becoming
> a much less violent species. Whilst referring to interesting data, and
> more "interesting" explanations, Pinker hedges toward celebrating our
> current peaceful state...rather a worry.
> Phil
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