RE: Why do we seek to transcend ourselves?

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon Jul 15 2002 - 22:49:10 MDT

At 07:37 AM 7/15/02 -0600, Ben wrote:

>My hypothesis is that the modern human psyche generically contains a certain
>lack, a feeling of emptiness. Obviously this is far from an original idea!
>It's been called many things -- a feeling of aloneness, meaninglessness,
>purposelessness, existential angst...
>Some have claimed this is a consequence of modern civilized society and its
>mismatch with our evolutionary programming, which may well be the case -- I
>suspect it is *largely* but not entirely the case, and that primitive
>peoples also feel something like this, but more weakly, perhaps partly as a
>consequence of the mismatch between their own culture and their evolutionary

Sidebar: we have almost no evidence of what primitive peoples felt one way
or the other (taking the term literally to mean human forbears from, say,
100,000 or a million years ago). But I assume Ben here refers to, say,
extant hunter-gatherer societies, or their deracinated remnants. Such
people are no more primitive than any other; each human sub-group has been
in existence as long as all the others, and has adapted with as much
ingenuity to today's climate, constraints, opportunities, etc. The
distinctiveness of different peoples' religious ideas and practises might
be illuminating, but not because any of them is `primitive' in this sense.

Damien Broderick

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