A Progressive Belief: We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.

The idea that people should return to a primitive state was foolish to those who had more experience with the boundaries of civilization. After spending millennia trying to get out of a primitive state, why would they want to return to it?

Traditional Americans didn’t typically believe that they were inherently noble. On the contrary, they believed that they were basically flawed or sinful, and therefore could only strive toward ideals, never fully reach them. The idea that people should return to a primitive state was foolish to those who had more experience with the boundaries of civilization. After spending millennia trying to get out of a primitive state, why would they want to return to it?

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

  • Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
  • We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: a civilized man, but a ...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: a civilized man, but a person who questioned whether civilization was according to human nature. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cognitive unconscious provides “tells” of a person’s worldview in their language. These language clues are little peeks behind the curtain of the unconscious mind. They hint at the metaphors guiding one’s thoughts. For instance, the common term “noble savage” is a language clue deriving from the “we need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility” belief. The phrase is associated with the 18th century French philosopher Rousseau (who never actually used it but did put forward the idea of the innate peacefulness and lack of vice of primitive man). It survives because it resonates with progressives, who carry the unconscious conviction of our inherent and transcendent nobility. To newthinkers, adult innocence, whether found in a faraway culture or in one’s own life, is a holy grail. Adult innocence is for them a pseudo-religious state, equivalent to a state of grace for Christians.The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

  • Our bodies are inherently noble.
  • All so-called wisdom from the past is worthless.
  • Advanced culture obscures our inherent nobility.
  • The more natural, the more virtuous.
  • Children are more noble than adults because society hasn’t corrupted or damaged them as much yet.
  • Adults should strive to regain their lost innocence.
  • The future is perfectible. A transcendentally noble future is possible.
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