Machines and Emotions
In the essay Bertrand Russell examines how machines have affected human life. The invention of machines brought the industrial revolution which changed the mode of production.
In pre-industrial societies production was at the individual or cottage level. In post-industrial period machines made large scale production possible. It gave rise to problems of capital and labour, long hours of work, regularity and monotony in work process.
This life style, Russell believed, was not compatible with human nature or emotions. Will machines destroy emotions or emotions destroy machines? This question was raised by a few poets, writers and aesthetes (like Rousseau’s disciples, lake poets, William Morris and Samuel Butler). But these attempts were not serious efforts to understand the impact of machines on mankind. We know that the one has not been able to destroy the other.
Machines are capable of mass production. We can purchase more goods than our forefathers could do.
The assumption is that possession of materials goods is what makes man happy. This is not correct. Happiness is not proportional to income.
Men have physical needs and they have emotions. While physical needs are unsatisfied they take first place but when they are satisfied emotions unconnected with them become important in deciding whether a man is to be happy or unhappy.
Why do we, in fact all of us, desire to increase our incomes. It is man’s instinct to excel others which forces him to earn money and purchase goods to impress his neighbors.
One of the most powerful of all our passions is the desire to be admired and respected in society. Respect is given to rich men. (When a man moves to a more costly locality, sends his children to more expensive schools, or purchases paintings of the old master to have a gallery in his house, he feels he will be respected by his neighbors.)
All this might be different in different societies. In some...
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