Hello dear reader,
I recently came across Marcher Cavalier‘s video On Liberal Anthropology, it was an interesting YouTube video on the state of nature and how the enlightenment has viewed such a concept, and also pointing out some flaws in those arguments put forward by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. I enjoyed the video so much that I made a comment on the state of nature argument which I will post below:
His last statement of the video is that rather than the conventional understanding that individuals create societies, it would be more accurate to instead state that society gave rise to individuals, and as such in our timeline appears to be more foundationally important.
‘This last statement is something which is ignored too often by pretty much everyone when it comes to the state of nature debate, and how society should be arranged and how it formed. It seems relatively obvious that the group was the primary entity which kept society going and allowed society to be a ‘thing’. As our society became more prosperous, that allowed the emergence of the individual in the sense that we mean individual in modern society. You don’t get to act and pretend that you are an entity living in a void until you are safe and rich enough to actually believe your own isolation is normal, natural, healthy, and a born entitlement.
A good example of this is in Descartes Meditations when he says that he made sure he was alone in a cabin in order to have no external influences on his thinking, and thus was able to just be a thinking being. This ignores the blankets on his lap, the fire in the corner warming his body, and also the language which he was thinking and writing in, which is shared, and even more blindly obviously the brain and phenotypical body he possessed which allowed him to even think is inherited and given to him from his lineage. He was not alone or an individual being alone, his entire lineage lives in his body and the way his brain manifests itself as an entity and person. In this sense you can begin to push the idea that the concept of the individual is only the specific unique expression of your lineage which makes you ‘you’, but this ‘you’ has been carefully selected through biological impressions and passing on those traits and genes. What you are is an inheritance of billions of years of change. The metaphysical you isn’t a you at all, you are a link in a chain, but you are always more chain than link.
In an early, or even a communal society, this atomised individual doesn’t get the chance to view itself that way, as instead it views itself as a limb or part of a greater whole, even if this is just directed towards the direct family. This great whole is what you actually are, as you inherited your society, and your genetic place within in. In this sense you are only an individual when you tear yourself out of it, or you are merely talking about your unique genetic makeup which is never that unique because your society is related to you, and it’s the only reason you exist and can even have the delusion of being an absolute individual (emphasis on the absolute).
Anyway, what I mean by all this is: Good video!’
‘On Liberal Anthropology’ by Marcher Cavalier: https://youtu.be/Zfo-Am9gevE
Marcher Cavalier’s YouTube page: