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(1934). Emotion as the Basis of Civilization. By J. H. Denison. Prefatory Note by George Foot Moore, Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion, Harvard University. Published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York and London, 1928. Pp. 555, including Bibliography and Index.. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(1):111-112.
(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(1):111-112
Emotion as the Basis of Civilization. By J. H. Denison. Prefatory Note by George Foot Moore, Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion, Harvard University. Published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York and London, 1928. Pp. 555, including Bibliography and Index.
This exceedingly interesting, suggestive and important book is peculiarly timely. At this particular period in our development, when the old standards set up by government, religion and law are all crumbling, when respect for authority has been replaced by an exclusive individualism that asks only of any suggested scheme: What do I get out of it?— in these days of social disintegration when the failures in our economic system are paralleled by an equal collapse in our moral standards, it is well worth while to review the structure of society and the significance and meaning of civilization and see if out of such a study developed on the basis of an historical survey some understanding can not be come at which will indicate with reasonable clearness what are the most valuable elements in the present situation to take hold of and to develop.
Briefly speaking, the author concludes that the three most significant organizations in a society are the religious, legislative and judicial: that the first, the religious, corresponds more nearly to the circulatory system in living beings, transporting, as it were, ideas, feeling attitudes, beliefs, allegiances; that the legislative system corresponds to the nervous system, holding all parts together in an organic unit; and that the judicial system is excretory in function, casting out those elements and units of society which have ceased to be valuable to its purposes. He studies these various aspects of social organization from the earlier times, and the beliefs associated with the religious emotions and with kingship of people who are in the fairy-story period of development, and he follows them forward, describing in particular, to begin with, the patriarchal scheme of social organization, or, as it might be otherwise described, the “vertical” scheme, where power and authority descend from a central head to subordinate sub-heads and finally to the people themselves.
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