Slavery lurks beneath marble and gold
“Slavery,” Seneca would write, “lurks beneath marble and gold.” The things we own…end up owning us [defining us]. Because we can’t live without them, we identify with them, we’re worried someone will take them from us.
It seems fairly well known that what we call civilization (the shift from preconquest to conquest centered) emerged from agriculture and domestication of (humanity) and animals, an unprecedented transformation from Small Band Hunter Gathers to land and property owners.
Frank Wilson, MD, author of The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture, notes; approximately twenty-five percent of the motor cortex in the human brain (the part of the brain which controls all movement in the body) is devoted to the muscles of the hands. Frank explores the hand's evolution--and how its intimate communication with the brain affects areas such as neurology, psychology, and linguistics--offering provocative new ideas about human creativity and how best to nurture it. One of the most interesting aspects of Frank’s thesis is something termed Kinesthetic Imagination, how the body learns, moves, and imagines, as a proprioceptive foundation for cognitive thought and imagination. This is of particular interest as thumbs and forefingers, interacting with technology, replace whole body movements the developing brain swims in, no longer with nature, but flat screens and buttons. https://www.ttfuture.org/academy/897
Applying Franks’ thesis more broadly, SBHG did not “own” anything. Apples were for all. They were, pagan, nature-centered, egalitarian, and matriarchal. The concept of “me” separate from the community and nature did not exist, not the way we experience “me and mind” today. When these people stopped roaming, collecting, and possessing, their core identity, their self-worldview changed forever. The more stuff one controlled, the more dominant and important hierarchy, patriarchy, and the concept of “mine” grew. There emerged a mental equitant between the importance of outer stuff and the inner concept or image of “me, mine, (having or not) power over others and conquest.” Hierarchy and patriarchy, like identity weeds, sprouted as part of this mental equitant, stuff = me. I am defined by my stuff. Like the hand, stuff changed the human brain.
The challenge the Stoics seemed to accept is breaking this falsely reified equation. “I am a human being, not defined by my stuff.” “I am a human being, not defined by the ideas, belief, and concepts that culture impose.”
Like a video game virtual reality, while we are in the game, identify with and believe in that virtual reality, indeed, the rules of the game prevail. They define and control us, even when the rules of the game are mortally toxic to our authentic nature.
So much of what you have written about, and I have read and appreciate a number of your works, implies this break of identity, disassociating from culture’s implied hierarchy (comparison) and patriarchy, to a moral position grounded in authenticity as a human being, not as a cog in the virtual game called culture. And stuff was, and is, the defining factor that changed the human mind, until we see through the trick or enchantment we have accepted for and about ourselves, as I assume many Stoics did, not only as a philosophy, rather as a way of being and relating.