I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roamin’ ’round,
Just a wandrin’ worker, I go from town to town.
And the police make it hard wherever I may go
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore.
A few centuries ago in western philosophy there was discussion on the “natural human state of being, ” wondering if “original simpler societies” had social structures which reflected this natural human behaviour had more social solidarity than modern society and that the perhaps the problems in modern society resulted from changes in behaviour caused by individuals adapting their “natural behavior” to the requirements of maintaining social solidarity in modern society.
It was not new then, this idea has been around for longtime
Think of Genesis—God created man and woman, Eden was their natural state of being, and it was perfect. Later in anger God kicked them out of Eden and what we call “our life” is God’s punishment for disobeying “him”, but if we truly believe during our life then God will let us into heaven, i.e. back to the “human natural state of being,” a perfect life.
As Sociology emerged the concept of culture being an “unexplainable consistency” resulting in “common human behaviour,”—i.e a social stability— was causally connected to people doing the “common behavour”—socialization— and there developed the idea that individuals could change, or could be made to change, their behavior by controlling their behavior, whether through social authoritarianism, individual disciplined efforts, or some combination of the two.
The theme was that the process of culture —not the expressions of culture—resulted in individuals internally repressing their natural being for social solidarity which intern prevented them from having the ability to take control of their own life.
What is the “natural state” of human beings? We do not really know, still many people just believe it was better, even though they usually cannot agree on what it was. We get a little scientific information from archeology and anthropology which clearly suggests that it was not better—based on today’s materialistic common values, yet how could we tell if there was more happiness, more satisfaction, more meaning. painting by Janney
The theme is that “original people” lived in their natural state of being in which they had control over their own destinies and that the needs of modern society separated individuals from this natural state of being, it alienated individuals from their personal ability to determine their own life.
Contemporary alienation is based on the notion that culture is a unifying process to control human behaviour with the goal of “social solidarity which results in survival (as people). This process of culture while resulting in “social solidarity” functions using repression of natural individual behaviour in favor of behavior which increases social survival.
In traditional societies most people behaved very similarly, there was little “cultural adjustment pressure” but in modern societies there is an increased diversity of individual behaviors, especially in the division of labour, i.e. jobs. People have many different kinds of roles such as occupation, social groups, consumer and with a satisfied large middle class everything seems to run smoothly.
Culture works to maximize social solidarity and in modern society with its increasing diversity in behaviour conflicts with culture, when culture “dominates” the result is individuals repressing internally who they are naturally. The basic theme is “individuals are alienated from their natural being for social solidarity.”
“man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”
Rousseau thought people were naturally good and society compromised this natural goodness for social solidarity;
Hegel thought there was an original universal “ human spirit” which united subject and object as one that was here before the material conditions but modern society separated them. Using human reason individuals could overcome and reunite them —sounds like the story of Genesis with Adam and Eve separated from Eden;
Freud saw sexuality as a “natural” part of being human, the process of socialization used sexual repression within individuals to create social unity which screwed people up, but individuals through therapy could realize themselves by overcoming the sexual repression;
I like Japanese design, below is a poster with a lot of very literal information yet on first look the viewer grasps everything and enjoys doing it.
Marx saw history as a natural class conflict expressed by the material contradictions of the mode of production, with resolving these contradictions in capitalism as the final obstacle in reaching a utopian society for everyone. The material contradictions alienated individuals who work from their ability to benefit from their work.
Poster in Cambridge MA,about 1970
In each of these theories people are alienated from their “natural being” for social solidarity. For some this alienation was a problem to be solved by the individual, for others it meant changing the structure of society. But consistent is that this “alienation” is a property of modern society and it would be a good idea to resolve it.
Life is a continuing bunch of problems but the question raised here is how much power do individuals have to define these problems and create solutions in their own interests. Is the lack of that personal power a measure of their alienation or their lack of personal capabilities.
Maybe that cannot be helped, it seems that the garbage of bad things just keeps growing bigger while the Earth gets smaller and it threatens to destroy the whole planet unless we find a way to bring a workable economic and social justice along with prosperity.
The big surprise? Buddhism fits too. Every sentient being has a sleeping buddha inside of them, but society prevents, i.e. alienates, them from realizing their Buddha. If you practice “correct” behavior you will awaken the Buddha within you.”
Question? “Is being a Buddha a “utopia”?, . . “perfect enlightenment?” . . . “at one with the universe?” “Will I no longer feel unhappy?”
Bodhidharma said “Buddhas don’t do good, Buddhas don’t do bad.”
Hagi is very porous and with use is always changing color, this chawan was made by the son of a potter who founded his kiln in the 1890’s. I also have one by his son.
I guess posting on my blog counts me as a poster.
Poster in Cambridge MA,about 1970