Charting Human Emotions
For social engineering to exist as a science, we must better understand how human emotions affect the growth of civilization. Ethics derives from a cybernetic process of actions and consequent reactions. In cybernetic ethics, information is extracted from societal morals, manners, and laws to quantify ethics. Take, for example, the study of etiquette.
Examining social protocols and the rules of decorum are the best approaches to describing etiquette. As rules go, they might not look like much, but they are important. Protocol refers to a social communication procedure; decorum refers to the communication behavior or tone. Both protocol and decorum relate to rules of etiquette. For example, the procedure for correcting an awkward social situation in which two people bump into each other is for one or both to say, “Excuse me.” The tone in which the words are spoken must convey sincerity and concern. The person who caused the collision may not even say, “Excuse me,” while the other person may say it.
Why, one might wonder, do we have to say “Excuse me” at all? The reason we do so is to defuse any high emotions that might arise from the collision. Some might perceive the collision as an intentional act of aggression. It could be said that a statistical number of people will make no apology, and a larger statistical body of people will—and for good reason.
In scientific terms, no repository of statistical information exists. However, if we consider society to be an evolving environment we can conceive of the idea of a societal mind capable of discerning good and bad behavior. Over thousands of years people have observed and experienced a vast range of human behavior from which one learns that actions have consequences. Not saying “Excuse me” is a bad choice because it contradicts the cultural memory of good choices.
Peace, prosperity, and productivity are socially desired ends. Arguments that arise from social collisions rob the peace, drain the social prosperity, and diminish productivity. The rules of etiquette in its many forms reflect the strife that will arise if rules are not present to suppress it.
Examining many of the rules of etiquette reveals the face of human emotions. It is no easy task to pick apart the various emotions at play in the simple example of two people bumping into each other. However, one must remember that the periodic chart of chemical reactions also took a long time to develop. Building a periodic chart of human emotions is no less daunting.
To understand human emotions one must know much about a person’s state of mind at any given moment. If two people bump into each other, and one person is in an aggravated state of mind, that anger might transfer to the other person, causing an explosive emotional display. If the aggravated person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the emotions might be more intense. However, if both parties are intoxicated and in aggravated states of mind, the rule of law or etiquette tends to devolve into a physical struggle.
Societal memory plays a role in etiquette as well. Take, for example, the consumption of alcohol. The societal memory of alcohol goes back hundreds of years and is manifested in literature, laws, and moral codes. Adults have had experiences of their own that contribute to the perception that excessive alcohol consumption is wrong. In a sense, the societal memory suggests danger: one should always say “Excuse me” when one bumps into someone because, statistically, a percentage of collisions will spark hard feelings or violence.
A moral “ought not” is an expression of societal memory. And, invariably, each “ought not” leads back to human emotions that can be charted. All ethics are cybernetically derived formal codes that, like legislation, serve to engineer a society.
Realizing that actions and consequent reactions define the foundations of society will lead to a quantifying of moral and ethical behavior that will broaden the scope of ethical understanding.