A Human History of Emotion : How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know by Richard Firth-Godbehere – Review

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 Emotions – I have been researching on human emotions and how they can impact society. I learned in my REBt classes that emotion is a verb and not a noun because the definition and shade of emotion are based on the actions that we take as a result of the emotion. While I was learning more about it, I came across the book A Human History of Emotions. 

A Human History of Emotion by Richard Firth-Godbehere

Book Name: A Human History of Emotion
Author: Richard Firth-Godbehere
Publisher: Harper Collins


How have our emotions shaped the course of human history? And how have our experience and understanding of emotions evolved with us? We, humans, like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, who, as a species, have relied on calculation and intellect to survive. But many of the most important moments in our history had little to do with cold, hard facts and a lot to do with feelings. Events ranging from the origins of philosophy to the birth of the world’s major religions, the fall of Rome, the Scientific Revolution, and some of the bloodiest wars that humanity has ever experienced can’t be properly understood without understanding emotions. In A Human History of Emotion, Richard Firth-Godbehere takes readers on a fascinating and wide-ranging tour of the central and often under-appreciated role emotions have played in human societies around the world and throughout history – from Ancient Greece to Gambia, Japan, the Ottoman Empire, Britain, and beyond. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, art, and religious history, A Human History of Emotion vividly illustrates how our understanding and experience of emotions have changed over time, and how our beliefs about feelings – and our feelings themselves – profoundly shaped us and the world we inhabit.

From Plato and Socrates

The author has taken us for a stroll down the history of how emotions were assessed. It is amusing to read about how emotions were perceived in a different window during those times and how philosophers have managed to crack the chemistry of emotions and biology for that matter.  The books seep into our intellect bit by bit with detailed research about the history of how the perception of emotions evolved. If the research was vast, the author has managed to tight pack it for the ease of the readers.  He himself mentioned at several parts of the book how certain philosophers’ studies call for a separate book in itself and how he managed to cut it to fit the bill.

Religions and emotions

The author further goes on and interlinks the evolution of emotional research with religious beliefs and how it helped mold the psyche of the masses. From Hinduism to Christianity to Buddhism, different religions perceive emotions differently. The reference to how Christianity and learning that the religion evolved later is new information for me and it makes the intrigue to know more about feelings and emotions paramount.

Mental health and history

The book is a textbook for students who are interested in learning about feelings and emotions. In short, it is something that teaches you about the history of mental health or how it was perceived as such. The author’s narration makes it all the more alluring and makes it a book that we can cherish and flaunt.
This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.
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