Using Charles Darwin’s survey of emotions as a starting point, Stuart Walton’s A Natural History of Human Emotions examines the history of each of our core emotions—fear, anger, disgust, sadness, jealousy, contempt, shame, embarrassment, surprise, and happiness—and how these emotions have influenced both cultural and social history. We learn that primitive fear served as the engine of religious belief, while a desire for happiness led to humankind’s first musings on achieving a perfect utopia. Challenging the notion that human emotion has remained constant, A Natural History of Human Emotions explains why, in the last 250 years, society has changed its unwritten rules for what can be expressed in public and in private. Like An Intimate History of Humanity and Near a Thousand Tables, Walton’s A Natural History of Human Emotions is a provocative examination of human feelings and a fascinating take on how emotions have shaped our past.
The author of Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication tackles human emotion, exploring the ten basic human emotions that shape personality and identity, blending insights from philosophy, science, history, and popular culture.
We expose it, cover it, paint it, tattoo it, scar it, and pierce it. Our intimate connection with the world, skin protects us while advertising our health, our identity, and our individuality. This dazzling synthetic overview is a complete guidebook to the pliable covering that makes us who we are. Skin: A Natural History celebrates the evolution of three unique attributes of human skin: its naked sweatiness, its distinctive sepia rainbow of colors, and its remarkable range of decorations. Jablonski places the rich cultural canvas of skin within its broader biological context for the first time, and the result is a tremendously engaging look at us.
On the Natural History of Basic Behaviour Patterns
Author: IrenÃ¤us Eibl-Eibesfeldt
The author argues that there are specific turning points in evolution. Structures and behavioral patterns that evolved in the service of discrete functions sometimes allow for unforeseen new developments as a side effect. In retrospect, they have proven to be pre-adaptations, and serve as raw material for natural selection to work upon. "Love and Hate" was intended to complement Konrad Lorenz's book, "On Aggression," by pointing out our motivations to provide nurturing, and thus to counteract and correct the widespread but one-sided opinion that biologists always present nature as bloody in tooth and claw and intra-specific aggression as the prime mover of evolution. This simplistic image is, nonetheless, still with us, all the more regrettably because it hampers discussion across scholarly disciplines. Eibl-Eibesfeldt argues that leaders in individualized groups are chosen for their pro-social abilities. Those who comfort group members in distress, who are able to intervene in quarrels and to protect group members who are attacked, those who share, those who, in brief, show abilities to nurture, are chosen by the others as leaders, rather than those who use their abilities in competitive ways. Of course, group leaders may need, beyond their pro-social competence, to be gifted as orators, war leaders, or healers. Issues of love and hate are social in origin and hence social in consequence. Life has emerged on this planet in a succession of new forms, from the simplest algae to man--man the one being who reflects upon this creation, who seeks to fashion it himself and who, in the process, may end by destroying it. It would indeed be grotesque if the question of the meaning of life were to be solved in this way. As the author notes in the preface of this new edition: "I discuss the phylogenetic origin of our behavior and motivations, which provide the basis for our cultural evolution and thus for our humanitarian hopes." In language that is clear and accessible throughout, arguing forcefully for the innate and "preprogrammed" dispositions of behavior in higher vertebrates, including humans, Eibl-Eibesfeldt steers a middle course in discussing the development of cultural and ethical norms while insisting on their matrix of biological origins.
Coming to terms with emotions and how they influence human behaviour, seems to be of the utmost importance to societies that are obsessed with everything “neuro.” On the other hand, emotions have become an object of constant individual and social manipulation since “emotional intelligence” emerged as a buzzword of our times. Reflecting on this burgeoning interest in human emotions makes one think of how this interest developed and what fuelled it. From a historian’s point of view, it can be traced back to classical antiquity. But it has undergone shifts and changes which can in turn shed light on social concepts of the self and its relation to other human beings (and nature). The volume focuses on the historicity of emotions and explores the processes that brought them to the fore of public interest and debate.
A natural and cultural history of crying probes this phenomenon from every angle, using the work of philosophers, poets, scholars, scientists, anthropologists, and sociologists to trace the changing meaning of tears throughout the years. Reprint.