Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting?
It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life:
The Great Forgetting refers to the wealth of knowledge that our culture lost when we adopted our new civilized lifestyle. The knowledge that allowed indigenous cultures to survive, the knowledge that we had once also been tribal and the understanding that we were but one mere culture of thousands. All of this disappeared in a few short generations.
The Great Forgetting accounts for an enormous cultural collapse as once tribal people found themselves in a new and strange mass centralized society. New beliefs, new ways of life rushed into this cultural vacuum to fill the void. But without being tested by natural selection over thousands of years this new culture was evolutionarily unstable.
It is only recently that the Great Forgetting has been exposed. Understanding it holds the key to making sense of our destructive culture. And remembering what it is that was forgotten holds the key to our future.
How The Great Forgetting Took Place
It began around 10,000 years ago when one culture in the Near East adopted a new way of life that humans had not tried before.
They began to practice an intensive form of agriculture which enabled them to live in a settled location.
They developed large food surpluses which led to a population and geographic explosion. What began as farming communes eventually turned into villages, then into towns, and then kingdoms. Civilization began.
But it was a long time before anybody began to write down history, several thousand years later in fact. What happened in between was that the people of this culture forgot what had happened. They forgot that they once were hunter gatherers and foragers who lived a nomadic lifestyle. They assumed that mankind arrived on the planet at the same time as civilization. They assumed that civilization and settled agriculture was the natural state of mankind, as natural as living in a herd and grazing is to buffalo.
Naturally this gave rise to the belief that we were only a few thousand years old, that mankind had began when civilization began.
The primitive cultures that lived on the fringe areas of early civilization would appear to suggest that humans had lived another way. But they were easily explained away. They had fallen from the natural state of civilization; they had degraded into savagery. They had once lived as fully fledged humans but they had forgotten the way and now they were inferior, they were sub-human.
The Philosophical Roots of Our Culture
This collective cultural memory lapse; this belief that humans had arrived in the world as civilization builders was held by the foundation thinkers of our culture.
The philosophers, historians and theologians of the ancient civilizations: Sumer, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, India and China wove the Great Forgetting into their work.
Those that followed – the Hebrew authors of the Bible, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah, the great Western thinkers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and the great Eastern thinkers Lao Tzu, Gautama Buddha and Confucius – all wove the Great Forgetting into their work.
The thinkers of more modern times also followed suit, they didn’t take any Great Forgetting into account. Why would they? They had no reason to believe that humans had not come into this world as civilization builders. They had no reason to believe that this wasn’t our natural state. So Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes carried on our culture with the Great Forgetting at its root.