Development of emotion
A part of human development is the ennoblement of feelings. Collectively, the cultivation of noble feelings is the task of culture.
The idea that emotions developed naturally as a consequence of evolution came, unsurprisingly, from Charles Darwin himself. In his 1872 book "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" Darwin argued that emotions evolved via natural selection and serve a function that aids animal and human survival.
Emotions as a natural consequence of evolution
Human feelings are the result of a long evolutionary process that originates from urges in animals. Urges emerge as physical-emotional states of animal experience during their struggle for survival in an ever changing environment. In its pursuit to meet the body's needs of self-preservation and reproduction an animal gravitates to things that feel pleasant, and shrinks back from things that feel unpleasant or painful. This instinctual behaviour can already be discerned at the level of cells and bacteria which flourish in suitable substances and shun the harmful ones.
In humans the unfolding mentality elevates our 'animal' nature by adding thoughts into the process. The result is a mix of thoughts and emotions that produces feelings. The most basic human nature consists of urges (pertaining to the body) and feelings (pertaining to emotionality).
FEELING = EMOTION + THOUGHT
Feelings contain raw emotion and thoughts about a certain experience.
Emotion preponderates in feelings. Thought is weak (vague) in feelings.
Emotions and feelings developed from animals. They are mammalian elaborations of arousal patterns that can already be observed in reptiles. Neurochemicals step-up or step-down the brain's activity, and human emotions are an enhancement of this evolutionary process.
Emotional SELF-CENTREDNESS (EGOISM)
In the same way as urges express bodily needs, emotionality expresses personal likes and dislikes. Emotionality is never an expression of objective truths. It is always an expression of personal subjective preferences and desires. For the most part primitive emotional life is egoistic and self-centred because it seeks to satisfy bodily needs in the first place. It develops only slowly intellectual interests of some kind.
Emotion is a mentally blind activation energy and plays a vital role in our behaviour before mentality is properly developed. Intellectually underdeveloped people tend to have selfish motives because they mostly crave for physical stimulation. They easily yield to bodily impulses and desires when the undeveloped intellect is not able to restrain passions or to think about issues objectively.
Individuals with emotionally hateful tendencies find an outlet for their impulses in harmful action, speech and thought because these negative expressions incite them to activity of some kind (gossip, slander, hatred, envy, mistrust, fear etc.).
The million years of evolution and environmental struggle left a trace in human nature in form of primitive emotional complexes that give rise to fear and hatred of tribalism. Lofty ideals or intellectual issues don't meet with much interest in many people, because mentality is weakly developed, and negative emotionality from those ancient evolutionary deposits still asserts itself all too strongly.
CULTIVATION OF FEELINGS AS HABITS
The reason why it's difficult to overcome one's own negative emotionality is because the evolution of human character qualities is an evolution of habits.
In the same way as you can learn to become addicted to something, nature automatically develops and preserves new capabilities, features and behaviours through successful repetitions across generations that accommodate environmental conditions. In the same way we establish behavioural habits and learn new skills through repetitions during our entire life.
The key to mastering our emotionality is by focusing on the emotional capabilities and feelings that we want to cultivate and their constant strengthening through conscious or unconscious repetitions. Goodness and evil is something that can be learned and unlearned, depending on the inborn tendencies. And those inborn tendencies can be tweaked and changed through personal behaviour and social influences . That's why it's important to take personal as well as collective responsibility for our decisions and behaviours.
Emotional-mental complexes are habits. Habits make up a character.
Repetition is the key to emotional development.
Good and evil can be learned and un-learned.
Ennoblement of feelings is the goal of emotional development.
Music, literature and fine art are the means through which people express their emotionality. These domains constitute what we call culture. What people consider worthy of cultivating in a culture depends on their level of understanding and development. Communities with a primitive, negative emotional understanding prefer crudeness, ugliness and triviality in their 'cultural' work (hatred, sadness, fear etc.). People on loftier levels strive after elevating feelings, noble values and ideals (love, joy, compassion etc.). The task of contemporary art and culture should be to provide an environment for the ennoblement of feelings. Whether it really does it, is another question.
In people with a positive outlook on life the emotional stimulation comes mainly from noble (elevating) feelings: sympathy, enthusiasm, joy, compassion etc. The untroubled, natural character expresses itself easily and spontaneously (naturally). The ennoblement of our emotions is the most important thing to do in order to promote further global development on individual and collective levels.
The psychologist Carroll Izard claims emotions emerged before language and conceptual thinking were acquired. However, language and mentality greatly enhanced our emotional lives, so that we can share our experiences with each other and foresee the future to take appropriate action. Somewhere in the course of that evolution we lost sight of empathy as our most important emotion, a fact which is clearly seen in the numbers of murders, conflicts and wars that were so characteristic of our distant and recent past.