"Human Emotions": Good or Bad?
Someone described Ayn Rand as a sociopath for supposedly not having regular human emotions. The problem with that claim is what regular human emotions are described to be.
There are some emotions that appear to be naturally human - such as loving one's children and one's parents. But then there are others that are ascribed to the title that don't appear to be natural at all. The main one of the preceding is what is described as human conscience. A cross-cultural analysis shows that conscience is not naturally but rather socially determined.
In Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the main character was feeling the pangs of conscience for liberating a slave. In today's society his conscience would not claim liberating a slave to be wrong; it would claim liberating a slave to be heroic. A person raised under Communism would claim business to be evil and would feel guilty for practicing commerce; a person raised under capitalism would claim business to be good and would be proud of practicing commerce. And then of course there's this little matter of interaction with nature and other civilizations.
Many people really feel no guilt for blindly pillaging nature or destroying other ways of life. And many of these people claim to be definitive of conscience.
What is actually conscience? It is one's beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. And these are subject to all sorts of variability. It is my belief that it should be possible to create conscience that's based on reality and that leads to beneficial rather than violent, destructive, abusive or oppressive behavior. The standard for computation here would be, what does any given action add to the world and what does it cost to the world.
Thus, economic activity - such as hi-tech - that produces more utility than it produces waste, pollution and destruction can be seen from this computation as rightful. Whereas economic activity that destroys more than it realizes benefit - such as burning the Amazonian rainforest or flooding the atmosphere with CO2 - can be seen from this computation as malignant. Domestic violence - something that causes far more harm to the person at its receiving end than the utility that it realizes to the perpetrator - will be seen as unjustifiable behavior and treated accordingly. In social matters, and for any ideology, the main computation should be, Does it produce more benefit than it causes ill?
Many anti-freedom mentalities like to claim that freedom leads automatically to wrongful behavior. They are wrong. The human nature as a being that exists as oneself, as part of humanity and as part of life will by its own logic result in actions that are directed to the benefit of all the preceding. A person who's free does not become automatically a murderer or a monster. His nature will be self-interest, humanity-interest and life-interest, and his actions should be expected to be directed toward all of the above, with different directions in different people and at different times in their lives.
As for regular human emotions, there are any number of beliefs out there as to whether or not these are desirable. Christianity damns the entire human nature as sinful or fallen. Nietzsche claimed that the "merely human" should be overcome. There are any number of people who see regular human emotions as a negative or a shortfall, and they either suppress these or learn to manipulate these. So glorifying what some see as normal human emotions does not make sense to me, any more than does glorifying the ability to attack or manipulate them. We see some who say that that is a human nature hence good, we see others damning such things as being merely human hence evil. Both are wrong. They are not good or evil; they are just what they are. They are not function of "the fall." They are part of reality, which existed before people existed and is therefore not consequent to their moral judgments.
So the contents of one's consciousness may or may not be right. In either case however, an attempt to examine or alter the consciousness is bound to be met with attack, inside you or without. If you attempt any change on this matter, you are bound to feel like a terrible person or be portrayed as a terrible person. But it is better that conscience be constituted rightfully rather than wrongfully; and that makes this process in many events worthwhile.
Of course it is also possible to reconstitute a formerly-rightfully-formed conscience with a pack of lies; and many people have been doing just that. This is done especially to immigrants, particularly immigrant children. Their original conscience is seen as a threat; so it is attacked and taken away from them. Result: children are left without a conscience. Then these get attacked and claimed to be sociopaths, while those who have done this to them continue to see themselves as righteous citizens. Nevermind that their original conscience demanded a lot of them and had much right to tell.
Then the final insult. Seeing these people as personally malformed. See these people as lacking a conscience. Excuse me, what did you do to their conscience when they had it? And how much things could improve if people were conscientious about such concerns?
And then - what again? "We are humans, you are not." By Christian ministry that says more in our favor than yours. By Nietzschean, likewise. And yet when it is argued that human nature was capable of many good things, it is claimed that this idea is against God. So let's see: It's good to be human when it suits you, it's bad to be human when it suits you as well. All clear, and thank you for showing the rightfulness of your ethical beliefs.
Wars start when people decide that they hate one another enough to do it. Meanwhile there is a big movement against hatred and yet most of these people continue to hate - just more acceptable things.
Then we see people who believe that they have values; which in most cases is a lie. They have values as to how other people should act toward them, but not toward their own actions. They go by protocol rather than knowledge or insight, creating a protocol-centered worldview. When the world is found out to not go by this protocol, the world gets blamed. The worst outcome of that is of course people flooking to death-seeking religions that demand them to abuse life while life is still being had.
So which then of these emotions are really human, and is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well that depends on what you believe. As for me, I've heard enough bullshit in my life to last two to three centuries. And don't blame for this human emotions either. This bullshit came from both those who liked emotions and those who hated emotions, with equal amount of bullshit coming from each.