People and the Romantic Idea

August 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm (Rantings and Musings)

This is simply musings. We’ll see where the idea ends up as it becomes more polished, if anywhere.

I was once upon a time a Romantic about people. All people are, at one point. I fell in love with the Idea of them and that is the fault in our current state of affairs. People are intrinsically mean and nasty. The idea of us being civilized is nonsense.  We operate in the State of Nature even in our so called “civilization” and no amount of Low or regulation can change that. People use each other as means for we see no end other then that of ourselves. When one human see another there is no true desire to help other then self gratification. Now Don’t get me wrong, I think people are very egoist and NOT that they ought to be on such an extreme leave. If there is a way to avoid this I hope to find it. However, from observation people act like the animals they evolved from and no matter how “civilized” we have become, we are no better then those ancestors of ours. People believe we has somehow evolved beyond the system and we are now better then that. I disagree.  In the Animal Kingdom there are no pretenses. When an antelope encounters a wolf she knows there is danger. Some how our evolution has rendered us smarter and for it we are worse.  Why is it that humans fell the need to lie? Is it the fact that we have created society? If we did exist in this State of Nature then would there even be a need for all of the false interactions? We still feed on each other and pray on the week, the difference is that the field  has moved from the physical to the mental realms. This is our  “secondary state of nature”. This is the folly of our upbringing. We are taught the right way to act and though it may be this ideal image of civilization it is not necessarily the human nature we share. As a result we function in this perfect ideal of what we want and expect people to be. This is what we picture when we call someone civilized or civil. The person themselves are irrelevant. The idea is all that matters. People are scavengers and when we become disillusioned and see others for the animal we all are, we call them evil or bad. Whether or not it is true. But it’s as they say: Ignorance is bliss. And the only way to function in this Secondary State of Nature is to act “civilized” and hope nobody notices you aren’t.



  1. nexus six said,

    It’s not a secondary state of nature at all. Animals lie and cheat and steal. We’ve merely provided ourselves the tools to do it on a greater plane. The civil person is not one who functions as an ideal of what our state of nature should be, but rather the person who is able to function within the new rule-set of nature that we call society. Functioning does not imply actually playing by the rules, merely giving the notion that one does play by the rules. Society and civiization are indded romantic ideas. Not because they have made people stop being mean, or because we no longer beat each other to death over food (mostly). I imagine that they are romantic ideas because they give us those tools needed to look another person in the eye, wholeheartedly convince them that you love them, and then blow up their house. What animal can do that? Society isn’t a secondary state of nature, it’s merely what we call our state of nature. It’s odd that you have a misanthropic tone to your post, when what you said is more than just true, it’s what makes us great. I dunno. Maybe I’m just a romantic in the opposite direction.

  2. aubreycierra said,

    The state of nature is as you have described with the animals behaving as they do. We have evolved and with us we have created this notion of society. All I’m saying that it is a lie as you pointed out : “I imagine that they are romantic ideas because they give us those tools needed to look another person in the eye, wholeheartedly convince them that you love them, and then blow up their house” this is the depressing nature of what we have created. this secondary state of nature is merely the evolution from physical chaos to mental and emotional chaos What is it about humans that makes us feel the need to lie? Functioning in society, in order to do this we need to lie. However what is the pint if everyone is doing it? Its like playing a game where you know that all the players have 4 aces up their sleeves. If everyone in society is lying in order to be better then why lie at all. We could still do the same things we are now but without the lies. Morality does exist in some form so why do we need to feel like we have to lie in order to reach it. This contract seem broken now if that is the case. Society does not protect us form the state of nature at all it merely moves the playing field.

  3. Nexus Six said,

    I’m not allowed to post when tired. 90% of my previous comment made no sense.
    You’re making a strong connection between the secondary state of nature, and lies.
    I’m reading “Deception, perspectives on human and nonhuman deceit” and it made me change my idea that most lies(as opposed to deception in the form of things like camouflage) are interspecies rather than intraspecies. It blew my mind and realized that lies are absolutely necessary for the survival of the human race. Why? Two reasons. One, all humans are not equal(they are or should be equal in status, i’m talking characteristics like strength and intelligence). Two, self deception (potentially) breeds positive results. You said “this secondary state of nature is merely the evolution from physical chaos to mental and emotional chaos” and that’s true. Human beings have physically evolved to where we can’t go back to the state of nature. Our stomachs have become adapted to cooked foods, we’ve shed the thick body hair that allowed us to live outside of the tropics, etc. Because we have evolved to a state of mental and emotional chaos, and because we are not able to go back to the state of physical chaos, lies become a regulating mechanism. A frequently abused regulating mechanism to be sure, but much of the abuse comes from when people forget that they aren’t in the state of nature. Spool the example: In the state of nature, if you find food, you eat it because you don’t know when you’ll eat again. Dick Cheney can obviously afford to eat until the day he dies. Dick Cheney still contributed to starting the war so that he could have more food money. How did he do it? He lied to us by saying we were in danger. That’s bad. But positive deception of yourself and others can really be helpful. Spool another example: Dude marries chick. Chick can’t cook well. Dude lies to chick by telling her she is a good cook. This results in chick continuing to cook so that she eventually does get better, as well as him not having to cook himself. At first, dude also lies to himself by thinking the food isn’t too bad. This results in him not starving to death from being unwilling to eat her paltry gruel. You said “We could still do the same things we are now but without the lies” but we can’t because of our inequality. A person with great logical fortitude who can entirely see the relevance of your statement is still going to be put off if you tell them(in much nicer words) they are a bad cook and you don’t even want to eat their food, but they should keep cooking daily so that they get decent after a few years. I’m not a logical person. If somebody told me that my cooking was bad I’d never cook again, even for myself. Sometimes the truth is just counter productive for both parties. The truth hurts, and not all people have the power to get over the pain of how true our world is. You said “Why is it that humans feel the need to lie? Is it the fact that we have created society?” and “Some how our evolution has rendered us smarter and for it we are worse.” Society itself is a lie. It’s the lie that if we act a certain way, we can collectively reach a higher level on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a lie because we can’t all level up. But it levels enough of us to where it’s a benefit. Our intelligence is what has allowed us to create this romantic idea, this self deception that we call society. It’s that collective self deception that does move us to a different plane where we have to worry about our boss cheating us out of money rather than our boss killing us. Enough of my rambling. I guess I’m confused as to the conclusion your article is trying to make. Are you saying that people ought to be mean(uncivil) because that’s their evolutionary basis? Are you saying that society shouldn’t exist because it requires a measure of dishonesty in the form of denying your true self?

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