Re: EMOTIONAL IQ: (Transhumans: Anger management vs. Guns)
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 10:09:03 -0700 writes:
> Instead of focusing on guns, bows and arrows, or mud sticks (any one read
> R.A.W.'s Schoedinger's Cat: about Alpha Males need to fling poop?), I am
> curious what kinds of anger management transhumans would implement.
> Anyone half trained in logic can see that:
> Our human race learning to deal with it's own anger and rage could have saved
> more lives than banning guns. The Emotional IQ of people who shoot each other
> is far more intersting to me than how many of them do it, or which ones were
> "right". Emotions here on the list in fact are of great interest to me. The
> anger and aggresion mounts daily!

Anger has many meanings. In speaking of "counting to 10" and mediation, you seem to be looking at the relatively short-lived emotional response: the flaring nostrils, rush of adrenalin, heavy breathing, blind sense of rage which occasionally we all feel.

You are no doubt right that much violence occurs in the throes of this kind of short lived anger. But I would guess that most violent attacks and deaths do not occur in such a state.

First, you have the entire area of deaths by warfare and genocide. In this century alone we have seen Hitler's holocaust, Stalin's purges, the killing fields of Cambodia, and many other instances of mass murder. These number in the tens of millions and surely far outnumber individual murders. Most of the people involved were not commiting these acts in a burst of passionate anger.

Even among murders and attacks, only a fraction occur in the throes of an outburst of temper such as you are describing as anger. Others are the result of long-simmering resentments, or even cold blooded calculation of advantage.

And anger is not always bad. Meek and mild people are often taken advantage of. The angry person speaks up and complains to the management. She makes the sales clerk deal with the customers in line rather than answering the phone. He forces his associate to follow through on a business commitment rather than backing off when difficulties arise.

Anger has arisen and been maintained through evolution because it serves a purpose. Anger can give people strength and courage to break through social and natural barriers that they could not normally manage. Anger blinds us, yes; but sometimes we have needed to be blinded, so that our actions are not constrained and we can act with necessary intensity and speed.

Of course, ultimately, all of our emotions, anger, love, fear, hope, are a rather crude form of motivation and guidance. If we didn't have fear or love, we might not need anger. Perhaps as transhumans we will be able to substitute rationality for all our emotions. We will be the Vulcans of Star Trek, always logical and rational. Does this sound desirable?

Or, as long as we're fantasizing, let's pretend that we can only get rid of the "bad" emotions and keep the "good" ones. We'll keep love and discard hate, keep happiness and discard sadness. We'll become Teletubbies. What a marvelous future this will be.

I am torn between the desire to control my emotions, and the desire to feel my emotions. Should I fight anger, or should I glory in it? Philosophers have different views on this. Some say we are alienated from our emotions and need to stop trying to suppress and control our deeper selves. Others advocate a path of calmness and serenity, without strife or, for that matter, striving. No one answer is fully satisfying to me.