Our new book, The Elephant in the Brain, argues that hidden motives drive much of our behavior. If so, then to make fiction seem realistic, those who create it will need to be aware of such hidden motives. For example, back in 2009 I wrote:
Our basic concept doesn't have much to do with whether societies are Western or capitalist, though of course details of behavior depend on the details of culture.
I encountered the introduction to your book on Lucid, and though I have much less academic experience and titles than you, I have dabbled a bit in many different social and political subjects in undergrad, and have a question about your fundamental assumption in the book.
I took a Western Political Thought class a couple of years ago and learned about how different philosophers have influenced how western society was organized. Chief among the ideas that led to the justification for a capitalist society was the idea that humans are inherently selfish (thank you, Adam Smith, and Hobbes, and a few others). Based on this assumption, in Adam Smith's work on morality (The Theory of Moral Sentiments), which accompanies his more famous work on economics well, he proposed that we try to create a society in which everyone has an internal "spectator," who watches their actions and judges them, in order to create more peaceful citizens who don't just follow all their selfish whims. He then outlines how to design a society which would make this happen, which is basically a capitalist society (where everyone also has internal spectators). This sounds very similar to what you're describing in your book in the division of the autocrat and the press secretary (it sounds strikingly like Smith's spectator). This was his solution to the endless wars, conflict and misconduct in Europe that the authoritarian monarchistic regimes couldn't get control over in order to have a peaceful society. It's also... an ideology he wanted to spread into society, not a description of how people are or were inherently (the spectator part, not the selfish part... that's a deeper discussion). It feels like this book is sort of naturalizing a state that seems to me to be artificially created not too long ago.
Though I haven't read the book in its entirety, I would be interested to see how this theory about the brain could be integrated with an examination of human behavior in societies and histories that aren't western (and aren't recorded by European colonizers). I'm not so sure human behavior is governed by other people's opinions so universally, but that it's a state that was brought about perhaps by certain political motivations that we're still parsing out today from European colonialism.
Finally a book to validate all my neurosis
I was in litigation for 2 years. At one point I lamented to my lawyer, that the case wasn't about what was mainly considered by the court. My lawyer said, 'it rarely is.'