The Noble Savage was probably simply a figment of 18th Century imagination but it is pleasant to imagine that there was a day in the distant past where people did not live in Grenfell Tower and didn’t have to look at Trump’s haircut in the media.
It is easy to imagine the life of the savage as a rural idyll. He is a hunter gatherer: he gets up in the morning, picks a date or two off the tree and goes out in search of brunch. Perhaps he ambles along the sea shore and eats a few raw mussels; perhaps he picks up a crab or two and takes them home to brew up over an open fire.
Not bothered much about housework or paying his taxes he strolls off in the afternoon in search of dinner. A small pig to roast perhaps? A wild foul to pluck and grill?
Perhaps he takes his eldest son with him while his wife and daughter sweep out the mud hut. Back from the hunt he reclines in his stone age deck chair for a snooze in the sun while the wife picks the wild pheasant and stuffs it with a few cloves of garlic for the evening repast.
They may not have had much of a concept of tomorrow or yesterday. Perhaps they lived in an eternal now. It is a pleasant figment to imagine the Noble Savage was indeed a Happy Bunny. No existential angst, no deep thoughts other than stoking the fire and turning the spit.
Eat, sleep, fornicate and repeat. Mend the hut. Chuck out the chicken bones. Burn the rubbish.
Sadly I suspect it’s all hogwash. Of course if I really believed my hypothesis I could always put a bone through my nose and shack up with the natives, deep in some rainforest or tropical island. And many is the time I have felt like doing so.
Sadly, Hobbes probably got it right. ” During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man”.
The savage, noble or otherwise was no better than modern man. We still live “in that condition which is called warre.”