Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
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14-01-2013, 10:51 PM
Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
So I'm sitting here thinking about why humans do the things they do. Why do we fight and argue and threaten violence and mock and demean and feel depressed and hopeless? I believe fear is the basis for everything wrong with an individual's and consequently the collective world's problematic behaviors. Fear. People are insecure about who they are and are frightened to discover the truth. Men posture and peacock and pick fights because they are insecure about their manhood and feelings they are afraid to confront. Maybe a parent left when they were little and they feel abandoned and rather than discuss their insecurities, they build a protective wall of violence because they are afraid of what happens when that wall crumbles.

We are insecure about our sexuality, our age, our physique, our imperfections. We live miserable lives because we are afraid to test the boundaries of our limitations. We don't want to know that we can't do something and so we don't apply ourselves fully. To give a complete effort and to fail would be devastating and so we work jobs that are beneath us. We put off finishing that college degree. Instead of pushing ourselves physically and finding out how strong we are, we blame genetics and take the easy way out. We are afraid of failure.

We are afraid of death and so we have created make-believe fantasy worlds called religion. We have constructed pleasurable eternal lives that transcend death and then we embrace this comfort belief so fiercely that we go to war when others challenge it. We are so afraid of death that we would rather kill another human being than accept the harsh finite truth.

There is an element of fear at the basis of every immoral behavior.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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14-01-2013, 11:20 PM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I think you're on the right track with your thesis, although I wouldn't place fear at the roots. Fear is an emotion and thoughts come before emotions. Thus, a more accurate approach would be to ask what thoughts cause the emotions that drive us to act irrationally. And, since thoughts are a product of our historical experience, we must ask what it is about our histories that causes us to think the things we do. Since our histories begin with childhood and, childhood is the time when our personalities are formed, it stands to reason that our adult behavior can be traced to our childhood experiences.

As children, we are heavily indoctrinated with contradictory moral rules, stories of imaginary beings and we are expected to honor and cherish the accidental. Is it any wonder human beings walk around confused and scared?

Contradictory moral rules: Don't hit others to get what you want and if you do, I'll hit you to get you to do what I want.... says the parent.
Respect others' property and if you don't, I'll take away your property.... says the teacher.
Think for yourself, don't follow your peers, and don't embarrass me in front of my peers... says the parent.
Always be honest, and never tell your fat aunt she smells funny.... says the parent.

Imaginary beings: Santa Claus knows what you're doing so if you want gifts for Christmas, you better behave, says the parent.
God knows what you're doing so you'd better not touch your privates or you'll burn in hell forever... says the priest.

The accidental: (Your country) is the best and you should honor it because you were born here.... says the politician.
Your team is best because you go to this school.... says the coach.
You're better than other people because you were born with this color skin.... says the parent.
↑↑↑ All with no empirical evidence and often with contrary evidence. ↑↑↑

Is it any wonder that human beings believe nonsensical, contrived bullshit and want to go around killing and imprisoning everyone who isn't like them?

Not to me.
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15-01-2013, 01:32 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I highly disagree that thoughts come before emotions. After all, human beings experience emotions long before they can even form cogent thoughts in their developing brains. Infants will always be afraid of a snarling, barking dog, even without a thought process or a past experience to decide whether or not to be afraid. If you want a root deeper than fear itself, I would simply suggest that our chemical makeup determines our fear levels and our reactions to them. Human beings are programmed to fear, to overreact to that fear, and to inflict violent retaliation all in the name of survival.

So all human problems stem from having to survive for so long against predators. I wonder if humans existed on a similar planet, never having come into contact with any other species, if they would be a more peaceful race, since they're no longer programmed to fight to survive.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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15-01-2013, 01:39 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I think fear used to cause most of humanity's problems, but I believe as we advanced so has the driving force behind our problems. Jealousy.
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15-01-2013, 01:43 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
There is no doubt that fear drives a lot of bad behaviour, but it isn't the root cause of all of life's problems. Anger causes a lot of problems too, but it's only one emotion that causes problems as well. You could take away our emotions, and we would still run into plenty of problems. The universe is chaotic, and we are insignificant pawns playing our parts, getting in one anothers way, causing problems for others and ourselves. There are plenty of other outside forces beyond humanities control that cause problems too...forces of nature, limited resources...there are going to be problems no matter what. Conversely, fear can sometimes be a good thing, it is a concept without an agenda. It can be used to control, enslave and destroy by humans, but fear itself can be beneficial. It causes us to take action...kill the predator that might kill us, move into a safer neighborhood, back down from a fight that would result in pain and injury.

Fear is a tool. Tools can be used for good or evil.

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15-01-2013, 01:47 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
(15-01-2013 01:39 AM)Ape_Linkin Wrote:  I think fear used to cause most of humanity's problems, but I believe as we advanced so has the driving force behind our problems. Jealousy.

Every other emotion I could come up with to blame, I found could be further deduced to fear. After all, what is jealousy? Desiring something that someone else possesses and you do not. Why do you desire it? Insecurity. You subconsciously feel less of a person because you are absent a possession, or a trait, or a skill that someone else has. They can do what you cannot and instead of recognizing this and still finding peace, you panic and seek to quell this growing fear and unease by either diminishing the value of the object (by making fun of it or claiming it's not that important) or by striking out. Person 1 doesn't have as much money as Person 2 and so he vandalizes Person 2's porsche to make himself feel better. Or attempts to sleep with Person 2's hotter wife. Acts driven by fear and refusal to know thyself.

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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15-01-2013, 01:52 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I'm not sure if I can attribute jealousy to fear, I can however anger to jealousy.
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15-01-2013, 01:53 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I guess in a sense you are right. After some brief thought, I stand corrected.
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15-01-2013, 02:42 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
Human's develop cognitive reasoning skills in utero. We are born with underdeveloped brains, not undeveloped brains. By the time a baby is out of the womb, it doesn't take long for him to recognize potential threats to his survival and, since there is a minimum of past experience to draw from, most new things pose a real threat in his perception. Also, let's test your thesis:

If we are in a pitch dark room and I kick you in the knee, are you scared before I kick you? On the contrary, your knee sends a signal of pain to your brain which then processes that pain along with the lack of knowledge about its origin and its potential for happening again as fear. Once I tell you I've kicked you, your brain then processes that information and the fear is replaced with anger toward me. Of course, most of this happens in mere nanoseconds but none the less, you don't feel the emotion until your brain processes the input and your brain cannot process input it has not received. The same applies to babies' brains. They don't cry before someone yells BOO, because their brain has no information to process into fear. Likewise, they don't have to be able to form a cogent thought in order to process a snarling dog as a threat but, they do have to see a snarling dog.

As chemicals go, we aren't programmed for fear any more than we are programmed for speaking Mandarin. We are programmed with the ability to process information into emotions and our default position is rational self interest. We learn how to react (and over react) from our environments, in the same way we learn to speak our native language.

Since our subconscious informs most of our emotional reactions and since most people lack the self-knowledge to process their subconscious thoughts, it does indeed seem sometimes that emotions arrive ahead of thoughts. However, the mechanics of our biology prove this assumption invalid.

Also, the notion that early humans were most threatened by other species of animals is simply untenable. Humans are and always have been at the most risk of being hurt or killed by other humans. The farther back in history we look, the more we see infanticide and murder for myriad reasons, ranging from ritual human sacrifice to the irrational fear of females that fueled the infanticide of almost all girls born. The latter practice being commonplace, even in the west, into the early twentieth century.
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15-01-2013, 07:16 AM
RE: Are all of humanity's problems caused by fear?
I tend to think selfishness and lack of empathy are as important or more important. I think that fear of other people comes from a lack of empathy, and the scary spectres we make other people into come from our inability to see them as people we can relate to.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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