RE: Why do we seek to transcend ourselves?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Jul 15 2002 - 10:14:18 MDT

> Well, all of those are obviously wrong except Freud, who as far as I
> know never checked to see whether hunter-gatherer civilizations feel
> existential nihilism.
> Got any others? I must profess myself completely uninterested in what
> various authorities have thought about this, unless you believe their
> answers are correct. This is not a religious issue, it is a question of
> fact.

There are lots of references on this, but I'm not going to dig them all up

The anthropology community has had lots of interesting stuff to say on the
psyches of stone age peoples, though

Among my favorites are

Colin Turnbull, "The forest people" (from the 50's, not loved by all modern

Louis Sarno "Song from the Forest" (a *really* entertaining book, and you
should also buy the CD of pygmy music he recorded, sold separately...)

The data from anthro. does seem to suggest that there was a lot less angst
in primitive societies

Bohm's perspective and the Indian philosophy perspective are not in my view
"obviously wrong"; they are just coming from a different perspective than
modern empirical science. They reject science's criteria of "right vs.
wrong" just as science rejects theirs.

> A feeling of existential nullity is a physical event in a
> physical universe;

>From one important perspective, yes

>it has a cause.

As we both know, causal ascription is tricky, both psychologically and in
terms of modern physics. I feel it depends on the observer's mindstate and
knowledge base to a great extent.

-- ben g

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