Robert Pirsig

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From ‘Lila:’

“Of all the contributions America has made to the history of the world, the idea of freedom from a social hierarchy has been the greatest…”

“And yes, although Jefferson called this doctrine of socially equality ‘self evident,’ it is not at all self evident. Scientific evidence and the social evidence of history indicate the opposite is self-evident. There is no ‘self-evidence’ in European history that all men are created equal. There’s no nation in Europe that doesn’t trace its history back to a time when it was ‘self-evident’ that all men are created unequal. Jean Jacques Rousseau, who is sometimes given credit for this doctrine, certainly didn’t get it from the history of Europe or Asia or Africa. He got it from the impact of the New World upon Europe and from contemplation of one particular kind of individual who lived in the New World, the person he called the ‘Noble Savage.’

The idea that ‘all men are created equal’ is a gift to the world from the American Indian. Europeans who settled here only transmitted it as a doctrine that they sometimes followed and sometimes did not. The real source was someone for whom social equality was no mere doctrine, who had equality built into his bones. To him it was inconceivable that the world could be any other way. For him there was no other way of life.”


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