Asking Hunter-Gatherers Life's Toughest Questions


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Maybe I should have posted this in the philosophy sub.

What do you guys think.
It seems our conception of such "questions" and their answers is a function of our life/style. I would also speculate it has to do with the depth of our language. In the sense that the more terminology we have to describe existential matters, the deeper we feel such existential matters. To that end maybe language and philosophy has contributed to our suffering and struggles. Also maybe the fact that we are equipped with brain that are relatively advanced, and are problem-solving tools, in an age where food and other necessities for survival are abundant contributes to existential struggles and psychological pain, due to such a tool turning on itself, and creating problems to solve.

Would love to hear your opinions.
.... So disappointed.
They seem so simple. And these are Homo Sapiens in the 21st century...
I'd want to see Neanderthals...
They seem "simple," I'd say, because they've given Civilization a wide berth. Much of what we believe is simply a collection of narratives designed to make us "properly" behave in whatever (larger) society we find ourselves in.

They have less such needs, as their lives are mostly governed by Nature. They just see things as they are, and I wouldn't be surprised if they viewed us as silly.
People of today:

What is the most important thing in your life? BionTech Stock!
What is your biggest worry? Stock market crashing!
What will you do when you see a snake? Do a Selfie!
What happens when someone dies? Burial is loss of money!
What do dogs mean to you? Best friends, better than humans!

Lets be honest:

They are very simple people. They don’t have complex social structures, no special environment with meaningful seasons, no big human enemies.

When you are looking outside of Africa, even the simplest tribes like the Abos have their own complex mythology and could tell you a story about the moon.
I personally feel good about that we are not of that kind. Our lives have a greater meaning, because we have so much weight on our shoulders. We managed to shape the world, the environment, the plants, the animals around us. We are not only chess pieces of Nature anymore. In opposition to them we live in a world of symbols, metaphors, all around us has a meaning that nobody can understand, than has not been raised in our culture. We are magical beings, we are reflections, shadows of our ancestors. Our story, our wisdom and knowledge is endless, because we have written it on cave walls, in stone, on bark, on paper, digitized, we don’t have only one language. We brought the dead back to life with science, we can read the past and learn from it. Maybe we will be the only ones who remember the Hadza by saving their history.
They did not even seem to have stories about their ancestors, they are completely mortal and return to earth like the baboons, rhinos,lions, dogs.
But they said they believe that they fly to the sun.
Maybe they had once a mythology and it is lost, because of war and ethnic cleansing from other tribes against them.

I know this from South America, where tribes are living today that where once part of the Native American Empires in the region. They where long isolated and lost all their mythology, knowledge about building a civilization and history. When they saw airplanes, they created a strange mythology: Dead people will be collected by airplanes and then they crash END.
They had the same simple and rough mind, build on the need for food. They viewed woman as their property and talked about them like pigs or cattle.

Back to the Hadza: As you can see, they are not really HGs anymore. They eat corn porridge and this will be likely their main food. If you eat only lean animals, you will die:
If you eat too much organ meat like liver, you will also die:
There are some animals like the polar bear, which liver so is high in vitamin A that a few bites can kill you.
No human beings, not even Neanderthals can live from meat and honey alone. Inuit needed to collect berries for the winter and had trading routes with the more southern tribes to survive.
Every HG population on earth must collect plants for their food, even if they get them fermented from the stomach of large herd animals they killed.
The traditional Hadza diet consist of much more plants as the video suggests:

Corn doesn't come from in Africa, it is of American origin and was introduced with the Colonization. The people in the video have metal cooking pots and machetes. The same I often saw at the Pygmies today. It is hard to say if those people are really a continuous HG culture, or like the southern American HGs of today got once “become wild” out of necessity.
Other Sub Saharan African cultures developed farming over 4000 years ago. All HG tribes in Africa where in contact with them. It is unlikely, that those HG cultures did not get influenced from this like it also happened in Europe with the Anatolian Farmers and the European HGs.
Collecting wild sorghum and root vegetables is time consuming and requires a large territory, it is easier to get them from farming cultures by trade.
As you can see, they wear the traditional clothes only for tourists, otherwise they wear the clothes from the western markets that where not sold and brought to Africa.
Of course, no matter how much "traditional" you keep your way of life. Once a civilization starts coming into the proximities of your land, your way of life is already influenced by the conquerors.

But getting back to the main topic, they're very simple, at least that tribe. Even though I'm surprised about what you said about Aboriginals, I didn't know that difference.
They're more cultural than this people of the video. These ones didn't get much of behavioural modernity it seems...
I don't think all hunter-gatherer societies are the same. Some have a more developed mythology to give meaning to their existences other than just a day-to-day struggle to survive, such as the Aboriginals of Australia, as Doggerland mentioned.

Still, even these people have the beginnings of a belief system surrounding the death of other humans. They don't leave the bodies to rot on the ground but bury them in caves. They hope that they go to the sun, and continue to survive in some form, because they say that they offer prayers that in this "after life" any problems they had in this life will be resolved.

I would like to know if any belongings were buried with the bodies. We know from archaeology that happened with hunter-gatherers. Also, we know that perhaps there were not just celebrations when a big kill was made, but ceremonies to thank the animal, or to pray to the spirit of the animals for success in the hunt. We have records of such things from first encounters with some very primitive North American Native tribes. They weren't all like the Iroquois. Some of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest were basically just hunter-gatherers.

There's definitely a debate as to whether concept/feeling comes first or a word. I've always been of the opinion that the thought comes first, and then a word is created for it. That's why, imo, some words are so culture specific that they're not easily translatable into another language.

For example, Italian has two words for "maybe": forse or magari. Forse operates like "maybe" in English: maybe it will or maybe it won't. Magari is different. It's a maybe laden with hope. Maybe, but if only it would.

Struggimento is another such word. You could translate it in English as yearning, but it means so much more; it's a yearning that causes physical pain, that destroys one.

Sprezzatura is one of my favorites. It was created by Castiglione in the 16th century. It means effortless elegance, and doesn't apply just to clothing. An unexpected, dashing soccer move leading to a goal or even a pass could be an example of sprezzatura.

Or how about meriggiare, which means to seek shelter and rest from the heat of the noonday sun in a place of shade. It's the beginning word of one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite Italian poets.

"Meriggiare pallido e assortopresso un rovente muro d’orto,
ascoltare tra i pruni e gli sterpi
schiocchi di merli, frusci di serpi."

To rest at noon, absorbed and pale,
close to a burning garden wall,
to listen among kindling and thorns
to cries of blackbirds and hiss of serpents.

In the ground's cracks or above the vetch,
to spy on the rows of red ants
that sometimes break and sometimes cross
at the summits of minuscule heaps.

To observe behind the leaves the distant
heartbeat of slivers of sea
while hearing the trembling screech
of cicadas raising from the bald peaks.

And walking into the sun that dazzles
to feel with sad wonder
how all of life and its labor
is in this following along a wall
that has on its top sharp bottle shards."

These hunter-gatherers may feel these emotions. Indeed, by their description of their hope for, but uncertainly about, a place after death where travail and pain will end, I think they do, but they don't have the words to express it. Only with the division of labor and creation of surplus that developed with the Neolithic were there the people with the time to think about these feelings, create words to express them, and even to create mythology to explain man's life and to offer comfort and meaning to it.

Montale is one of the existential poets back at the beginning, because belief systems which gave that meaning to life have shattered.

Another of my favorites: The Second Coming by Yeats

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of i{Spiritus Mundi}
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born

Angela, I agree with you. Humans are very diverse, and we all have emotions.
You mention several words and thoughts of your language that may well represent ideas we have and some of these traditional groups do as well.
Maybe the Iroquois do, but the Iroquois are very differentiated from this tribe. They're separates by a lot.

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