THE ROVING MEERKAT
PERSONALITIES AND EMOTIONAL FEASIBILITY
By Goodman Moeti (17 November 2013-08:00)
TSHWANE-Since antiquity and perhaps the origin of man, man has always strived for a better emotional state which in many cases is happiness. We have always been interrogating the term ‘Emotional Intelligence’ which by definition is the ability to identify, assess and control one’s emotions under circumstances one finds him/herself under. One may ask why do we need emotional intelligence, is it something one must enrol for to perfect or is it one of the innate attributes in mankind?
This is one of the terms that are consequential and aimed at perfecting results of feeling in one’s heart or soul. It is consequential in that, in mastering this art of life, one has his or her emotions at heart and as a bigger picture. In his ‘principle of utility’ which states that ‘the greatest course of action is the one that causes the greatest happiness for a great number of people’, Jeremy Bentham the father of utilitarianism starts by asserting that ‘nature has placed man under two sovereign masters…pain and happiness’.
Being influenced by one of the founders of Scottish Enlightment Frances Hutcheson who enunciated the ‘greatest happiness principle’, Bentham went further to create a moral arithmetic that would help evaluate each human action against units of pain and pleasure. Bentham also believed in happiness being experiencing more pleasure than pain. This makes sense in that there is no total happiness, since one pleasure does not eliminate one’s problems or pains. Bentham’s theory summarily says that the only way to measure a moral worth of an action is to evaluate its consequences, which contrasts Kant’s theory that the moral worth of an action lies in the motive to take such an action, not its consequences, how much one sacrifice or gives away to attain the results.
According to this philosophy, on a consequential level the action that promotes greatest happiness was morally right for an individual. Emotional intelligence tends to contribute to this factor by introducing cautious action. Jeremy Bentham led a group in Britain called the Philosophical Radicals who sought to effect social and economic reforms, this included James Mill the farther of John Stuart Mill. James Mill mastered this philosophy and taught his son John Mill from the age of three.
This is the reason why John Stuart Mill was to become one of the greatest contributors to moral philosophy, particularly under classical utilitarianism. Mill’s utilitarian philosophy is also of great importance in interrogating emotional feasibility under discussion. John Stuart Mill commends Bentham’s theory but develops his own utilitarian theory based on what he calls internal and external sanctions. These sanctions serve for Mill as the bridge between the world of an individual and the larger social universe which we are all part of. It governs the nature and formation of a human universe, away from material universe.
According to Mills external sanctions are social rules and laws that reward or punish persons for particular actions. But most interestingly individuals view these sanctions in terms of their potential for pleasure or pain and adjust their future behaviour accordingly. His view on internal sanctions then takes a different turn, he sounds more like Hume who propounded a theory that obeying a moral law produces a feeling of pleasure and vice versa. This is very understandable in that some people generate happiness from sympathy, which means their happiness is truly dependent on happiness of others.
In a very hard nut shell, Jeremy Bentham focuses on the happiness-producing potential of every individual action which is called ‘act utilitarianism’ while John Stuart Mill, though to some extend subscribes to this view, focuses his philosophy on the rules governing individuals in the society which is called ‘rule utilitarianism’. In bringing the debate down to social, business, romantic, and other forms of relationships, I will interrogate many of the incidents and situations I have been exposed to.
I strongly believe that before the arrival of Christianity and other religions in Africa this philosophy has been a good trend-setter for many people of this great land. The Bible teaches us about selflessness and caring for others, particularly those who cannot take care of themselves. It propounds a very good example when Jesus Christ had to carry the cross and die for the good of the world and its people. In analysing this phenomenon, it covers both Bentham, Mill the father and Mill the son’s theories of happiness or utility.
Jesus Christ had a life that he had given up for other people like him due to his love for people, he knew the pains he had to suffer but that did not stop him as he also knew the amount of utility he would enjoy and many other people would enjoy from his course of action. He also knew as a fact that one of his responsibilities on earth was to make God happy, which was in return going to make himself happy. This is evident of Mill the son’s internal sanction theory. No law forced Jesus Christ to die for us, but the utility vested in the greatest number principle which was strongly fuelled by God the father’s happiness. It was also consequential since his act was based on producing a result that would generate greatest utility for himself.
Due to the scope of work I would endeavour not to be long to maintain the originality of this magnum opus. Social relations have come into being and play since the second man was created and still dominate life even to this date. But the most determinant of this is the internal debates and discussions in individuals. People become individuals before they are friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, teachers and lovers of others. Policy discussions start at that level of individualism until the United Nations. This is what makes the world a wild whirl it is and has always been. Even those who are entrusted with enforcing the laws as per the policies of the world or nations find themselves acting against their internal personal policies at times; hence they oftentimes violate human rights.
In politics and economics as well, it is no oasis away from this environment dominated by personalities and emotional feasibility studies. Man in his life can be approached by five political parties selling different economic and political ideologies but only one of them will win in convincing this oke in falling in love with their philosophy. Decisions are made internally in individuals under individual material and emotional conditions which are very different for different people.
In choosing a political home one does a self-introspection and see what kind of ideology relates well with his/her inner being. His or her inner being may be someone selfish, someone democratic, someone social, someone dictatorial, someone peaceful, and someone hawkish, someone religious and otherwise. These are internal ideologies and set principles and policies that welcome or reject suggestions. Someone religious politically would opt for a theocratic polity which stems from his/her inner understanding of the world in a religious manner. This is the reason why you would not find one being a member of two political parties with different ideologies.
Someone selfish would opt for a capitalist polity which will create a conducive environment for his personality to flourish and increase utility for him/her. Everything is always about oneself, it is not about others. Even if one can argue that I help people because it is about them, they lie. It is about them feeling happy that they have helped other people. It is personal and always personal and always personal.
Emotional feasibility is only and always done to check one’s position and check options to checkmate others. This exposes the personality cults that roam the world hiding what they are feeling inside, pretending to be doing good things for others not themselves. A wise man will always check the feasibility of an action before embarking on it, none wants to be hurt while pleasing, none wants to be killed while rescuing, none wants to aid the enemy, and it is only under abnormal conditions that these happen. Abnormal conditions may refer to conditions imposed by employment rules, love, parental responsibility and others.
Individuals go as far as engaging in different wars in subjugating the opponent’s internal ideology to position his or her personality on a state of optimal utility. A boy in courting and wooing a girl thinks about none but himself. He uses his most lethal arts of war, psychological war I mean, to eventually win the girl. He sits down and plans how to weaken the mind of the girl so she can fall for him. He does this by enticing the girl as well as using carrots. In this case he uses only carrots in ‘carrots and sticks’ approach of persuasion. People always talk of negotiating to win; this is less of a negotiation and more of a psychological war at its best. This war takes place at an unusual ground zero being the mind.
The boy wants happiness and he wants it now, he believes by employing his artillery, his chemical weapons, his air force he can drive a point home and thus a rose garden for himself. He employs lies, deceit, charity, friendliness, terror at times and others to win the war. Once winning the psychological war, remember there is no clean war but this one is best decorated with roses, presents, lavish occasions, romantic smses and calls, he changes the environmental conditions. The boy now employs more carrots to keep the subject unchanged and the status quo intact.
The only thing utilitarian about this is that the boy wants happiness for himself, but arithmetically this can be translated into love for his special subject and thus her happiness too. This will then be a course of action which produces the greatest happiness for both this subjects of love. The girl then in the process does her own introspection based on the internal ideologies and policies which influence her decisions. She sits down and carves her ideal subject of love in the skies; she then compares the prototype subject with the geezer.
Once she finds this geezer cannot bring her the greatest happiness then she closes the doors and windows, not forgetting curtains.
This is as a result of an absence of personal and emotional viability of the course of action to be taken. She cannot date the boy just because it makes him happy; she wants happiness for herself, herself only and herself first. As I have tried to show above, none wants to please while not being pleased; it is a universal individualistic law, if not natural that governs personal decisions based on their emotional feasibility and benefits for personalities.
Since utility or happiness is generated by many things, the girl may choose to opt for other things from this geezer that can generate utility for her at a higher volume. She then starts observing the possibilities. In this case she looks at material benefits as she could not find emotional benefits. She will look at the financial status of the boy, if he can afford the conveniencies and luxuries of life she is occasioned for she then change in policy. Should her material feasibility produce results that make her happy, she then turns the tables and says ‘yes I love you too’. This is the cruelty of psychological wars, because you cannot see the armour and toxicity of the weapons the ‘enemy’ is using.
Negotiation and persuasion are and have always been aimed at finding a common ground; in this case the subjects have found a common ground but cannot disclose the common ground on which they operate. They lie to each other claiming to be on the same page, it is still utilitarian and they have always said ‘what you cannot see cannot hurt you’, this somewhat makes it right for both these subjects. They get happy, they improve their immune system, and they improve relations with many others since someone in love befriends everybody. They also improve their life expectancy, a happy mind translate into a happy body which stay healthy for long.
Emotional feasibility as a result of emotional intelligence dictates the actions of personalities and at times leads to personality cults. This is what many times ruins relations and causes fatal or destructive factionalism in many organisations. The moment one individual finds his internal debates and discussions good for the whole world is the moment he/she thinks his personality is the best this world has. This causes his/her mind to feel superior and invincible, it causes it to think only him/her can think abstractly and straight.
Personality cults develop out of things very small, one debate in one man’s mind can destruct the world. When Adolph Hitler wrote Mein Kampf it was out of his internal debates and discussions and his internal policy of fascism which he believed was best for Germany and the world. Adolph Hitler self-proclaimed himself as the vanguard of such an ideology and showed that indoctrination is a very good conduit of personality cults. Next door in Russia during the former Soviet Union a leader called Stalin developed the same disease which led to world hatred for communism and urination on Marxism-Leninism philosophy.
Even in a country where I am now, a leader called Jacob Zuma developed the same disease which saw the liberation movement African National Congress disintegrate into factions because of personality of one man. It is evident that greatest thinkers and leaders never suffered from this disease as they knew consensus and settlement could only be reached through dialectics and bringing together of the antagonistic views. These great leaders and philosophers include Hegel, Marx, Lenin, Mbeki and many others.
Much as it rules the world than money, happiness is still very destructive in some way and some people than it is supposed to be a jewel of emotional content. Happiness is actually the reason why people run after money like a pack of wolfs starved for months gunning for a rabbit. It is good for human beings to search and find themselves and thus act according to their personal needs, but interpersonal and societal relations must be taken serious. People must stop positioning themselves first always, that’s why you find people contaminating churches. Emotional feasibility must be a considerate science, not a science of promoting personalities while killing others.