01 November 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The power of emotions in our society

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The power of emotions in our society.

What might seem to be a pleasant run of the mill subject might prove to be the most explosive issue
in political philosophy. Unfortunately the gap between political philosophy and real philosophy is
wide enough for people to ignore the obvious as I try to demonstrate in my few lines on the subject.

In the meantime, this Saturday is the last opportunity you have to visit the British cemetery for a
while, although you can always get in touch with David to check when he next opens the cemetery for
public visits. I can assure that the Cemetery is a monument to the history of Madrid in modern times.
Cementerio Británico

Redacto el presente mensaje tanto en español como en inglés con el objeto de comunicarles el
programa de visitas guiadas sábados por la mañana al Cementerio Británico.

Las visitas empiezan a las 11 horas en la entrada del Cementerio Británico, calle del Comandante
Fontanes 7, distrito de Carabanchel
*sábado, día 27 de octubre, cuando daré las explicaciones en español
*sábado, día 3 de noviembre, cuando daré las explicaciones en inglés.

Lo dejo a su elección cuál día acuda y no hay necesidad de avisar.

Si prefiere hacer la visita en una fecha no programada por la presente lista, no hay más que avisarme.

Tomen nota de nuestra página web < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > que contiene información de la
historia del Cementerio y el mapa de su ubicación.


I am writing this in both Spanish and in English to provide the programme of Saturday morning guided
visits to the British Cemetery.

We meet at 11 o'clock at the Cemetery entrance in Calle del Comandante Fontanes 7 in Carabanchel
* the visit on Saturday 27th October will be in Spanish
* the visit on Saturday 3rd November will be in English.

The choice of date is left to you and there is no need tell me in advance of the visit whether you
are coming.
If you would like a visit on a different date, just let me know and I will arrange it.

Do take note of our website < www.britishcemeterymadrid.com > where you will find details of the
Cemetery's history and a map of its location.

David Butler


The power of emotions in our society

Emotions in the context of society, must by definition, have the characteristics of being publicly
manifested and cause public behaviour. Of course, by public behaviour I am also including inactions
and not actions might develop over time. For example the effects of a terrorist attack might lead to
a collection of emotions over time.

And although emotions are states of consciousness that are caused by external events to the person
(I am excluding diseases of the brain here), the physiological process might affect individuals
differently. Fear or anger, for example, might be felt in different degrees by people in a given
situation and might cause different reactions. Why this should happen if of course beyond the scope
of my few lines, here.

For me the worst issue is not the nature of emotions but rather what we mean by society. The word
–society- is like one of those hologram pictures we find with sweets and chocolate bars, although
today they are more common on credit cards, that look very pretty and convincing but in reality they
are just a trick on our perceptions and weakness of the brain. Indeed, one of the weaknesses of the
brain is that it receives data of the world in the same format, and it does not matter where the
data represent a real thing in the world or a representation of some thing in the world. A picture
of a tiger and a real tiger is transmitted to the brain in the same data type (chemical/electrical
signals). It is only the associated date that we also receive from each situation that will cause
different reactions in us. Coming face to face with a real tiger on the run wouldn't be very

There is no doubt that the word -society- is just a linguistic hologram, in the real world there are
individuals: each with a unique emotion system and each reacting to subjective stimuli from the
world. Thus the word –society- is a word that tricks our brain into thinking that there is some
singular collective of people out there, when all there is are just individuals. The only problem is
that this word society is a very successful word in our language and also very effective; we fall
for the illusion every time.

And there is a good reason for this language trick to work, most of us react more or less the same
way in a given situation. A nice picture of a tiger would make us feel good; a real situation where
we are face to face with a live tiger would also create the same panic fear in most of us. This
capacity in most of us to more-or-less feel the same emotion in more-or-less the same situation
gives us the sense that we can tie emotions to society. The question is whether all situations can
have this infectious effect on most us? And, as a consequence we experience the same emotion. Of
course, the point about emotions is not the feeling but the behaviour. If as a "society" we can feel
the same emotion and hence behave the same way, this could be a very useful tool in social
engineers. And hence manipulate individuals indirectly by hiding behind the illusion of society.

For example, by proposing that something is good for society, say spending billions of Euros to hold
a ridiculous sports event, means that individuals not only go with the programme, but wouldn't
object to such destructive projects to the nation's economy. We can be persuaded to believe that the
Olympics are good for the country, but you and I know damn well that such an event is not good for us!

One emotion that fits this criteria that can activate the same emotion in most of us from a single
event, and I cannot think of another one, is fear. So for all intents and purposes, the power of
emotions in our society, boils down to, the power of fear in our society. Of course, being
confronted by a tiger face to face is an extreme form of fear; mainly because humanity has
practically killed all tigers and we're therefore unlikely to meet a real tiger. But within the
concept of fear, we can include anxiety, insecurity, a sense of inferiority, feel good factor, etc.

Indeed this is why such things as nationalism, separatism, terrorism, war, racial phobia, and the
fires of hell are very popular with governments when the welfare of the population is being
threatened by failed government policies. These are serious events that can affect the security of
our group and hence us individually. These are risk free ploys guaranteed to generate fear in
society and the population.

What this means is that if you are a parent with a young family and the government is happy to
pursue policies that are guaranteed to maintain unemployment at 25% of the labour force, fear is a
real emotional experience many a parent would feel. And we all know that civil disobedience or
revolutionary fervour are just not options for people with real responsibilities. And those who are
not concerned about this situation is because they have nothing to lose or because they know that
their wealth is safe in the hands of a more reliable society overseas!

Best Lawrence

PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: The power of emotions in our society

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