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preconquest consciousness

A type of intuitive, empathic, feeling-based consciousness that has been observed in hunter/gatherer cultures.

The term preconquest consciousness was coined by anthropologist E Richard Sorenson, and it is the title of a paper he wrote summarizing his studies of consciousness and child development in isolated, indigenous cultures. From the introduction:

The preconquest type of consciousness detailed below survives today only in a few, now rapidly vanishing, isolated enclaves. Although those we contacted were widely dispersed, they shared a distinctive type of consciousness — one very different from the postconquest type that dominates the world today. It emerged from a type of child and infant nurture common to that era but shunned in ours.

The outstanding demographic condition required for such a life is small populations surrounded by tracts of open territory into which anyone can diffuse virtually at will. … The outstanding social condition is a sociosensual type of infant and child nurture that spawns an intuitive group rapport and unites people without need for formal rules. The outstanding psychological condition is heart-felt rapprochement based on integrated trust. This provides remarkable efficiency in securing needs and responding to nature’s challenges while dispensing ongoing delight with people and surroundings. The outstanding economic condition is absence of private property, which allows constant cooperative usage of the implements and materials of life for collective benefit. The human ecology engendered by the interaction of these outstanding conditions makes the forcing of others (including children) to one’s will a disruptive and unwholesome practice. It was not seen.

Any form of subjugation, even those barriers to freedom imposed by private property, are the kiss of death to this type of life. Though durable and self-repairing in isolation, the unconditional open trust this way of life requires shrivels with alarming speed when faced with harsh emotions or coercion. … With no other models about except those of conquerors, a ‘savage-savage’ emerges from the wreckage of a once ‘noble-savage.’

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