Using Charles Darwin’s survey of emotions as a starting point, Stuart Walton’s A Natural History of Human Emotions examines the history of each of our core emotions—fear, anger, disgust, sadness, jealousy, contempt, shame, embarrassment, surprise, and happiness—and how these emotions have influenced both cultural and social history. We learn that primitive fear served as the engine of religious belief, while a desire for happiness led to humankind’s first musings on achieving a perfect utopia. Challenging the notion that human emotion has remained constant, A Natural History of Human Emotions explains why, in the last 250 years, society has changed its unwritten rules for what can be expressed in public and in private. Like An Intimate History of Humanity and Near a Thousand Tables, Walton’s A Natural History of Human Emotions is a provocative examination of human feelings and a fascinating take on how emotions have shaped our past.
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