The term civilisation refers to complex human cultures that are generally urbanised. This post will propose that stable civilisations require human emotion to be balanced and that various frameworks exist to ensure this equilibrium. In the next post we will look at how scientific thinking has altered the balance of emotions within society and in the third post of this series we will discuss what alternatives exist for the future.
Having looked at various systems around the world we began to notice that many laws, religions and beliefs exist to balance human emotion and provide meaning to life. For instance a religious framework, such as Christianity provides balance through Love of ‘God’, Hope for a better life in Heaven and redemption from sin, Fear of Hell and damnation and Hate for other religions that drove the Crusades in the 11, 12 and 13th centuries. For thousands of years this model has existed to provide a violent balance to our civilisation. Over time other frameworks and ideologies have approached the structure of civilisation from different viewpoints but all have the same goal of creating social balance.
The Social Equation is a simple mechanism to help think about the balance of emotion in society and will hopefully lead to some debate from our readers as to how this can evolve?
The Social Equation: Civilisation = (Hope + Love) / (Fear + Hate)
The Social equation takes four primal emotions which in a dense urban environment must be kept in balance with no extreme examples causing significant harm to other humans. The choice of emotions is up for debate as they are not based on the list produced by Parrot in 2001 (love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear) but on common English parlance where we talk of hopes and fears as well as love and hate as general opposites. Humans are biologically programmed to enjoy Love because it is this emotion that binds families together that provide the support system for the next generation. Hope is the optimistic component of human emotion, a driving belief that things will improve and therefore life is worth living. Hope can also blind society to its problems which is why emotions of Fear exist to provide a balance and inspire action. Hate is the emotion which has led to many wars and acts as a social leveller and driver but which in the next post we will argue has been replaced in the equation due to the inhumanity of its results.
Each emotion used in the Social Equation has positive qualities in moderation and its mere existence acts as a foil to its opposite providing the ability to compare the benefits of being in one emotional state against another. Put simply you cannot know what Love is without Hate as an opposing emotion for comparison. We will question this idea in the next post but for the moment let’s look at each emotion in turn and how its extreme can be dangerous to social balance. Hope is the believe in a positive outcome. Taken to extremes false hope occurs where the person bases their belief around fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome which then leads to ineffective stagnation. For example Britain could have hoped Hitler wouldn’t have tried to attack but blind hope would have indeed led to an invasion. In contrast the opposing emotion of Fear can also be paralysing in the extreme where it resigns the human to their anticipated fate. Love as they say can be blind or blinding, leading the obsessed to carry out acts that are not rational to their own well being. Up until 1970 French law still recognised a crime of passion as a valid defence where love had led to murder. In contrast we have the emotion of Hate which in extremes leads to murder or war. Those with a greater historical knowledge will probably be able to suggest other relevant events?
Extremes of emotion cause instability and society puts in place frameworks such as law and religion to help find an equilibrium. One could also argue that Love and Hope are emotions that lead to contentment and inactivity while emotions such as Fear and Hate generally provoke a response that drives us to action. It is the push and pull of these emotions that keeps society in balance whilst also evolving slowly in response to the environment.
In the next post we will look at how science has changed the power of our balancing frameworks and how the cult of the individual has modified the Social Equation. As always please feel free to comment and add further examples.
The balance of emotional power