Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Daniel Quinn: The Great Forgetting

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 12, 2014

With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our parents and pass on to our children is squarely and solidly built on a Great Forgetting that occurred in our culture worldwide during the formative millennia of our civilization. What happened during those formative millennia of our civilization?

What happened was that Neolithic farming communes turned into villages, villages turned into towns, and towns were gathered into kingdoms. Concomitant with these events were the development of division of labor along craft lines, the establishment of regional and interregional trade systems, and the emergence of commerce as a separate profession.

What was being forgotten while all this was going on was the fact that there had been a time when none of it was going on – a time when human life was sustained by hunting and gathering rather than by animal husbandry and agriculture, a time when villages, towns, and kingdoms were undreamed of, a time when no one made a living as a potter or a basket maker or a metalworker, a time when trade was an informal and occasional thing, a time when commerce was unimaginable as a means of livelihood.

We can hardly be surprised that the forgetting took place. On the contrary, it’s hard to imagine how it could have been avoided. It would have been necessary to hold on to the memory of our hunting/gathering past for five thousand years before anyone would have been capable of making a written record of it.

Daniel Quinn: The Great Forgetting

 

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