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Is empathy outdated?
#26

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 10:33 PM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote: You're arguing from effect to cause. That innocent person is no less dead simply because you believe in your god; your belief doesn't change a single thing except your own behavior. Objective reasons for not killing innocents are easily reasoned or found.

Empathy isn't a result of rational calculation of results, it is a wellspring inside a person. Some folk have it, some folk have to learn it, and some folk never learn it. I'd be willing to bet that there is a correspondence in those three groupings between how they came to empathy (or didn't), and where they are in life, because assholes make enemies.

I'll also add that it can be just as well unlearned.  Folks who have it can be deprogrammed.
If it doesn't work, it doesn't matter how fast it doesn't work. ~ ???
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#27

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 11:13 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 10:49 PM)jerryg Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 10:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote: I think I sort of understand what you're saying.

Along similar lines, I say this: The atheist argument tends to be that morality is based on empathy which came about as a result of evolution, correct? We need to feel sorry for each other so that we can help each other and grow as a society. It's a survival mechanism. My comment back to that is, what happens then when we get the point in this world where we are so overpopulated that our individual "survival" depends on the exact opposite? And we start to evolve to need to look out for ourselves only in order to survive? Will it be considered moral then to see a person dying on the side of the road and not help them? 

I know this isn't exactly the point you're making, but I think it goes along the same lines, sort of. The question of empathy and whether it really is the "end all be all", and if it has a particular beneficial function, what becomes of it when it is no longer necessary or beneficial?  

This is why I believe a creator- a "moral law giver", if you will, exists. Killing an innocent person is objectively bad, regardless of whether or not anyone feels sorry for that person. And we have an innate, and universal understanding of that.

I think one of the problems with empathy now, is that it gets first billing for a lot of people.  We're sitting at our computer in a home drinking some coffee eating some peanuts reading about dead kids in Syria, and the only thing we have to worry about are the dead kids in Syria.  That might be another aspect empathy wasn't designed for.  The notion that we'd exist in a time when many people don't have any risk to their survival.  As you say, when things get grim, I think our empathy circle will close in.  If I were fighting for my life on a daily basis, that would override my worries about distant suffering.  And if I'm protecting my own, then I'm not losing sleep over protecting others.  So, I think the survival depending on the exact opposite, is actually what it was to begin with.  Survival was about your tribe protecting themselves.  If you need to kill off some other tribe to survive, that's what you do.  Which again goes to my point that I think it had some unfortunate unintended consequences.

That's why I think empathy is based on an innate understanding that life is sacred, rather than simply being based off of evolutionary survival mechanisms. It never was and probably never will be part of our survival to care about a random person on the other side of the globe. And yet, we still do.


I'm finally reading a newish book called Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  Apparently what set us apart from the rest of the Homo family is our ability to communicate and cooperate.  That alone allows us to coordinate our actions with up to 150ish individuals but what allowed us to go global is the invention of fictitious thinking.  That allows us to believe in things you can't see like states, law, property, money and even God.  We all believe in things we can't see and if we didn't we wouldn't be able to live as we do.

I recently read about William James' response to the Euthyphro dilemma and he would agree with you about the value of religious thought even though he probably wasn't very much so himself.  He didn't think atheists could not be moral or anything silly.  He just thought that we all tended toward an "easy-going" mood when it comes to morality while the religious more often exhibit a "strenuous mood" morally.  That kind of makes sense to me as I have no problem admitting to just such an easy going moral mood.  On the other hand that same "strenuous mood" which may sometimes drive some of the religious toward a more principled response at other times will lead others to force a plane to fly into a building, killing hundreds.
"Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. 
F. D.
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#28

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:15 AM)Dānu Wrote: The question that I've considered is, once we gain enough insight into human biology and brains in order to re-engineer the human species, and specifically to set the level of empathy or sensitivity, how would you determine what the appropriate amount or sensitivity of empathy should be?

I don't think empathy works like that at all.  We already can vary our empathy depending on our level of identification.  If I identify with the Eagles football team, I will be sorry if they lose.  If not, not.
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#29

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:28 AM)Mark Wrote: He just thought that we all tended toward an "easy-going" mood when it comes to morality while the religious more often exhibit a "strenuous mood" morally.

Because theists see the world differently than atheists, they see different moral distinctions and are more strict about those.  Atheists, on the other hand, are more "strenuous" about their own moral issues, like freedom of thought, separation of church and state, keeping science free of theistic influences, and so on.  This leads some theists to mistake atheists for "fundamentalist atheists," but the fact is that variations in moral approaches come from different worldviews.
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#30

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 08:33 PM)Yonadav Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 08:24 PM)Dom Wrote: A person who is devoid of all empathy is called a psychopath.

If the world loses empathy, I don't want to be alive.

A person who is devoid of empathy is a sociopath, if I recall correctly. A psychopath is someone who has break from reality.

It's actually the psychopath who is devoid of empathy, while the sociopath still maintains the ability of empathy if s/he wishes to employ it.

I should also add that the psychopath tends to learn to become a good actor whereby he acts/pretends to be normal in front of other people. S/he can pretend to be empathetic.
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#31

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 10:32 PM)jerryg Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 08:38 PM)Yonadav Wrote: We have plenty of cognitive biases that intervene with our empathy. Most of us can shut down our empathy in accordance with our worldview one way or another. So an empathy overload isn't too likely for most people. Arguably, those who refuse to watch the news because of negativity, and always think happy thoughts, and only do happy things, and avoid anything that will make them feel unhappy are training themselves to lack empathy.

Agreed.  But that's sort of my point.  We have to correct empathy on a regular basis because of how flawed it is when applied to this vast of a network.

How is it flawed?  Just because it's at a distance? To strangers?  That empathy can help prevent war and is needed more now than ever.

Oh, no Hallucinations 4:11 says the 'gilded sheep should be stewed in rat blood' but Morons 5:16 contradicts it.
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#32

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 02:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 01:15 AM)Dānu Wrote: The question that I've considered is, once we gain enough insight into human biology and brains in order to re-engineer the human species, and specifically to set the level of empathy or sensitivity, how would you determine what the appropriate amount or sensitivity of empathy should be?

I don't think empathy works like that at all.  We already can vary our empathy depending on our level of identification.  If I identify with the Eagles football team, I will be sorry if they lose.  If not, not.

That's varying how we cognize the inputs to empathy, not empathy itself. If you recognize a relevant agent as suffering, you have a response. Yes, factors can moderate that response, but there's still a basic phenomena at root, independent of moderating influences. You're confusing the fact of influences upon an empathy response with the empathy response itself. The most prominent example being animal suffering. If we identify animal suffering as the same as human suffering, the emotional response results. It's not purely an artifact of the process of identification. (Some hypothesize that mirror neurons are involved. I'm not real knowledgable about the subject.)
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#33

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:15 AM)Dānu Wrote: It's certainly likely that our empathy evolved because it serves a useful function in a social species.  Exactly how that works itself out I don't know.  I have in the past suggested that morals and morality evolve to benefit the specific species, and that the function they serve is proscribed by how it affects the species.  So human morals are evolved to benefit human survival.  I've been asked where that leaves things like animal rights, where the welfare of animals is concerned even against human interests, such as profit.  My response has always been that we cannot discriminately apply empathy, so in order to have empathy for humans, we must also accept that we are going to have empathy for animals.  Our mechanism of empathy does not reliably discriminate between empathy responses provoked by animals and that provoked by humans, so in order to preserve empathy for humans, we're forced to accept an overspill into empathy for animals.  The two are linked, and so you cannot reduce one without reducing the other.  Since reducing empathy for humans is undesirable, sacrificing empathy for animals is an unavailable path.  

The question that I've considered is, once we gain enough insight into human biology and brains in order to re-engineer the human species, and specifically to set the level of empathy or sensitivity, how would you determine what the appropriate amount or sensitivity of empathy should be?  People who have high levels of empathy will feel that empathy levels should be set high because lower levels of empathy will result in them not functioning as well in society, and a mismatch between their morals and those of the greater, less empathetic society.  Whereas lower empathy people would want to have the level set near their level, so that they could continue to benefit from a lack of concern over things such as cruelty in animal farming practices, or whatever practice would be hindered by people with greater sensitivities obstructing their interests, such as animal exploitation, hurting their profits, and just generally passing laws and norms that they see as unnecessary.  It would seem that in such a situation, if psychopathy were inherited, then psychopaths would have an interest in empathy levels being set according to their needs and empathy levels.  So it seems that there is no way to reason to what an appropriate amount of empathy should be as what is considered appropriate is based on one's level of empathy.

The way out of this conundrum, at least at first glance, appears to be to understand the role that empathy plays in promoting our survival as a species, keeping in mind its effect upon other species as well.  The difficulty is that there is the unwritten assumption that whatever trait or sensitivity we evolved to have is the appropriate level for our species to have.  This seems to depend upon the assumption that our survival in our environment was facilitated by those specific sensitivities, and that if other sensitivities were more optimal, we would have evolved those sensitivities.  Unfortunately there are a couple of problems.  First, evolution doesn't guarantee an optimal solution, so our evolved level of empathy may not be optimal for our species survival.  The second problem is that evolution doesn't seek solutions, but rather benefits from accident.  Therefore there is going to be a lag between changes in the environment and our developing adaptations to that environment, if at all.  A species that evolved to survive in small groups has very different needs from those of a pan-global species of 8 billion people.  Evolution may or may not catch up, but it's unlikely to have done so in the short time that it has been exposed to this environment.

I don't know much, but one thing I do know is too much empathy is just as destructive and dangerous as too little empathy. Anyone who's ever been in a life threatening situation where the lives of others depended on your ability to remove feelings from the equation and do the fucking job before everyone dies understands at some level this principle. There are of course other problems and risks associated with having way too much empathy.

No clue what the "proper" level of empathy "should be" I'm not sure if there "should be" a proper level of empathy. Psychopaths are most commonly found in the top 1% on the planet, the most powerful people. Frankly as distasteful as it may be to some, they do have a role to play in this world, and the world would likely suffer without them. And those on the other end of the spectrum probably have their uses as well. Those of us in the middle which make up the majority all differ in how much empathy we present, which leads to various different abilities. Some jobs a highly empathetic person simply isn't well suited to, they end up quitting. But you know, nuance like this is lost on most people in today's society. What with all the black n white thinking and extreme moralizing going on everywhere.
The universe doesn't give a fuck about you. Don't cry though, at least I do.
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#34

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 03:03 AM)Dānu Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 02:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 01:15 AM)Dānu Wrote: The question that I've considered is, once we gain enough insight into human biology and brains in order to re-engineer the human species, and specifically to set the level of empathy or sensitivity, how would you determine what the appropriate amount or sensitivity of empathy should be?

I don't think empathy works like that at all.  We already can vary our empathy depending on our level of identification.  If I identify with the Eagles football team, I will be sorry if they lose.  If not, not.

That's varying how we cognize the inputs to empathy, not empathy itself.  If you recognize a relevant agent as suffering, you have a response.  Yes, factors can moderate that response, but there's still a basic phenomena at root, independent of moderating influences.  You're confusing the fact of influences upon an empathy response with the empathy response itself.  The most prominent example being animal suffering.  If we identify animal suffering as the same as human suffering, the emotional response results.  It's not purely an artifact of the process of identification.  (Some hypothesize that mirror neurons are involved.  I'm not real knowledgable about the subject.)


What I'm getting from the Harari book is that the evolution that has made the difference for us is cultural.  Once we developed the capacity for fictitious belief we don't really change our capacity for or physiology of empathy anymore, we just learn to attach it to new fictitious creations like the divine right of the king to rule or manifest destiny or supply side economics and so on.  It is also what allows us to work cooperatively in huge numbers, as no other large animal can.  The basic genetic platform no longer needs to change and waiting for it to do so would be inefficient by comparison.  Fascinating book through the first chapters.  Have you picked it up?  I had to wait through something like 60 holds for my turn.  I'm actually thinking of breaking my rule and buying my own copy.
"Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. 
F. D.
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#35

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:00 AM)tomilay Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 10:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 08:36 PM)jerryg Wrote: If you were designing empathy from scratch for the modern world though, would you keep it how it is now?  Everyone at a kids birthday party in Peru is murdered by a local gang. 

Ideally, I think, you just would never hear about it.  I think that's how it was when empathy developed.  Ignorance is bliss and whatnot.  But now that we do hear about it, you will feel deep sadness to no end.  It's just you feeling sad.  A bad result that has no upside in that scenario.  That seems like an unintended consequence, right?  That's what I'm getting at with it being outdated.  It was evolved for a very different social structure.

This is why I believe a creator- a "moral law giver", if you will, exists. Killing an innocent person is objectively bad, regardless of whether or not anyone feels sorry for that person. And we have an innate, and universal understanding of that.

But people have killed and continue to kill "innocent" people.  In the last big genocide in Rwanda, regular people butchered neighbors, colleagues, spouses, parents, friends etc.  Churches proved to be deadliest places to hide with the priests turning over the victims to be killed in one convenient location. The killers were regular folks, not trained killers or even criminal types.  And majority of the Rwandan society considered it good work.  Did they just happen to miss the memo from the "moral law giver"?

They I suspect thought that "moral law giver" would approve and remembering flood myth this seems to be a reasonable assumption. Were god depicted in OT would actually exist he would probably chastise killers for work left undone.
The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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#36

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 03:03 AM)Dānu Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 02:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 01:15 AM)Dānu Wrote: The question that I've considered is, once we gain enough insight into human biology and brains in order to re-engineer the human species, and specifically to set the level of empathy or sensitivity, how would you determine what the appropriate amount or sensitivity of empathy should be?

I don't think empathy works like that at all.  We already can vary our empathy depending on our level of identification.  If I identify with the Eagles football team, I will be sorry if they lose.  If not, not.

That's varying how we cognize the inputs to empathy, not empathy itself.  If you recognize a relevant agent as suffering, you have a response.  Yes, factors can moderate that response, but there's still a basic phenomena at root, independent of moderating influences.  You're confusing the fact of influences upon an empathy response with the empathy response itself.  The most prominent example being animal suffering.  If we identify animal suffering as the same as human suffering, the emotional response results.  It's not purely an artifact of the process of identification.  (Some hypothesize that mirror neurons are involved.  I'm not real knowledgable about the subject.)

Some people's brains apparently don't work like mine does.  I think of myself as living in a simulation of the world created by my own brain, an approximation, which is subject to my own modifications for accuracy on a moment-to-moment basis. That means any emotional reactions are also modifiable. And I typically don't trust emotional reactions anyway, because they are too quick to be accurate. So in other words, I am on my guard from the start.
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#37

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 08:21 PM)jerryg Wrote: It's very easy to see why empathy got here.  Small groups of people invested in each other make for a happier more productive community.  But what was the world like when that trait evolved?  In the very recent history thanks to the internet, we went from knowing a few people, to being connected to nearly 8 billion.  On top of a bunch of different animal species. 

A dog gets kicked in Madagascar, some lady in Los Angeles hears about it and feels sad.  To me, it seems like it's become impractical.  People have their happiness tied to the well-being of everyone they hear about.  It is easy to understand why everyone is depressed and sad and angry.  Particularly with the way it has been weaponized by the people who control the information distribution.  

I don't have a point.  Was just thinking about how highly regarded empathy is as a trait, when in practice, it seems like we're tying ourselves together so when one of us drowns we all drown.  Which again, might be fine if we were 6 people, but with 7.5 billion, dogs, cats, whales, chickens, polar bears, rhinos, etc.. there's no chance of anyone not drowning.  And maybe it makes the world a little better place to have us all be sad, but if we're all just going to be sad forever regardless of how good the place is, then that doesn't seem like a good tradeoff.

I think you're confusing sympathy with empathy. 

It's one thing to feel sympathetic. Ie: The dog gets kicked and the woman in LA is sad about it. That's not empathy. She's sympathetic to the dogs plight, but she does't really feel sad over it. You can feel sympathetic towards the plight of an animal, but because we cannot step into their actual minds and know what sorts of emotions they have, that's the best we can do. Sure, you can hurt for them and be sad, but again - I believe that's still under the sympathy umbrella.
 
Empathy would have to imply that she can literally put herself in the dog's position and actually feel what he's going through. When a person does this with other people - when they can step inside their shoes and relate to the experience, that's empathy. Oftentimes, Empathy comes through because other's have either been where the victim are (because it's almost always a victim sort of situation) through personal experiences. 

I can empathize with other abuse victims, because I too, was a victim. I now consider myself to be a survivor.
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#38

Is empathy outdated?
(01-08-2019, 10:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote: I know this isn't exactly the point you're making, but I think it goes along the same lines, sort of. The question of empathy and whether it really is the "end all be all", and if it has a particular beneficial function, what becomes of it when it is no longer necessary or beneficial?  

This is why I believe a creator- a "moral law giver", if you will, exists. Killing an innocent person is objectively bad, regardless of whether or not anyone feels sorry for that person. And we have an innate, and universal understanding of that.
Bold mine

Noah's Flood. God didn't seem to care about all of those people and animals he put on the earth when he decided to kill them all in one fell swoop. I would have to surmise that the Abrahamic god, if real, isn't empathetic at all. The fact that Abrahamic religions try to spin the Noah's ark story as one that's cutesy and adorable, just to appeal to children, is quite disturbing to say the least.
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#39

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 10:48 AM)Joods Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 10:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote: I know this isn't exactly the point you're making, but I think it goes along the same lines, sort of. The question of empathy and whether it really is the "end all be all", and if it has a particular beneficial function, what becomes of it when it is no longer necessary or beneficial?  

This is why I believe a creator- a "moral law giver", if you will, exists. Killing an innocent person is objectively bad, regardless of whether or not anyone feels sorry for that person. And we have an innate, and universal understanding of that.
Bold mine

Noah's Flood. God didn't seem to care about all of those people and animals he put on the earth when he decided to kill them all in one fell swoop. I would have to surmise that the Abrahamic god, if real, isn't empathetic at all. The fact that Abrahamic religions try to spin the Noah's ark story as one that's cutesy and adorable, just to appeal to children, is quite disturbing to say the least.

Even as a kid, I considered the Noachian Flood story to be totally contrary to the idea of a just, benevolent God. One thing the Christian God obviously lacked was a sense of empathy.
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#40

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 10:48 AM)Joods Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 10:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote: I know this isn't exactly the point you're making, but I think it goes along the same lines, sort of. The question of empathy and whether it really is the "end all be all", and if it has a particular beneficial function, what becomes of it when it is no longer necessary or beneficial?  

This is why I believe a creator- a "moral law giver", if you will, exists. Killing an innocent person is objectively bad, regardless of whether or not anyone feels sorry for that person. And we have an innate, and universal understanding of that.
Bold mine

Noah's Flood. God didn't seem to care about all of those people and animals he put on the earth when he decided to kill them all in one fell swoop. I would have to surmise that the Abrahamic god, if real, isn't empathetic at all. The fact that Abrahamic religions try to spin the Noah's ark story as one that's cutesy and adorable, just to appeal to children, is quite disturbing to say the least.

But, but those were sinners so space Hitler I was brainwashed to believe in dindu nuffin. 

Let's face it - christianity is personality cult of genocidal madman and isn't considered dangerous delusion cause too many people believes in it as a result of indoctrination.
The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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#41

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:28 AM)Mark Wrote: Apparently what set us apart from the rest of the Homo family is our ability to communicate and cooperate.

Newer research shows that the Neandertals were just as well equipped as we are, just not as strong in number. But nobody denies them the ability to communicate and to cooperate these days.
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#42

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 12:43 AM)Mark Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 11:24 PM)Dom Wrote:
(01-08-2019, 11:21 PM)Catholic_Lady Wrote: Ugh, solidarity. 

For example, over a year ago a friend of mine, upon hearing I had cats, casually proceeded to tell me his family used to have a pet cat when he was a kid. I made the mistake of asking if they still owned the cat. He proceeded to tell me that once he moved out of the house to go to college, his mom decided she did not wanna take care of the cat anymore and dropped it off at a shelter. It got so depressed it stopped grooming itself and stopped eating. Two weeks later it was euthanized.

I'm not joking when I say I literally cried on my drive home. To this day, that story (and many others about animals and people) still haunts me. When I lay in bed to fall asleep I have to have something on - like a podcast or a TV show I can fall asleep to. Otherwise I'll start thinking of all the horrible things that happen to people/animals and it really affects me.

Anyway, sorry for the tangent. Just wanna say I relate to this so much.



Thanks for the image!  Sadcryface 

I cringe when you step on a spider.


Have you never gardened where snails are active year around.  To be a gardener is to play God.  I am personally responsible for so much mollusk death.  They're not entirely extinct in my garden but lets just say I've done some major culling of that herd.

I don't seem to mind when nature takes care of itself. Peafowl in the garden = no snails.
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#43

Is empathy outdated?
The term "empathy" describes a wide range of emotional experiences. Researchers
generally describe empathy as the ability to sense other people's emotions, coupled
with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

(01-08-2019, 08:21 PM)jerryg Wrote: In the very recent history thanks to the internet, we went from knowing a few people, to being connected to nearly 8 billion...

Nope; this is an illusion perpetuated by corporatists or those with a vested financial interest such
as Zuckerberg, Wozniak, Bezos, Dorsey, Jobs et al.  And remember, these sorts of people a
re not philanthropists;  they're entrepreneurs first and foremost. They don't give a flying fuck
about you or me or anybody else in the worlds' state of mind... or the purported empathy of connection.

Quote:A dog gets kicked in Madagascar, some lady in Los Angeles hears about it and feels sad.

I take your point at a superficial level, but this type of "long-distance" empathy simply doesn't work as you'd like to imagine.
 
Quote:...People have their happiness tied to the well-being of everyone they hear about.

I have to disagree with this too. There is no accredited research supporting your claim.

Quote:It is easy to understand why everyone is depressed and sad and angry.

Not "everyone" is depressed.  Currently, 3 million Australians, or around 10% are living with
depression or anxiety [beyondblue.org.au ] Yours is a rash generalisation.

Quote:Particularly with the way it [empathy] has been weaponized by the people who control the information distribution.
 
I'm not sure I understand this claim.  Please clarify. 

Quote:I don't have a point.  Was just thinking about how highly regarded empathy is as a trait, when in practice, it seems like we're tying ourselves together so when one of us drowns we all drown.  Which again, might be fine if we were 6 people, but with 7.5 billion, dogs, cats, whales, chickens, polar bears, rhinos, etc... there's no chance of anyone not drowning.  And maybe it makes the world a little better place to have us all be sad, but if we're all just going to be sad forever regardless of how good the place is, then that doesn't seem like a good tradeoff.

Um... what?     Huh
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#44

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 11:15 AM)abaris Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 01:28 AM)Mark Wrote: Apparently what set us apart from the rest of the Homo family is our ability to communicate and cooperate.

Newer research shows that the Neandertals were just as well equipped as we are, just not as strong in number. But nobody denies them the ability to communicate and to cooperate these days.

In fact those traits are not even restricted to primates.  People are not different from other animals in any quantitative way.

Quote:Crows, for example, can apparently contemplate death, and have tool-making abilities that are at least as sophisticated as, or may even surpass, those of monkeys. And Clarke’s nutcrackers can harvest tens of thousands of pine seeds, and cache them in thousands of different locations. If they notice another nutcracker watching them burying their food supply, they return later on to hide that cache elsewhere. When winter sets in, they can retrieve the seeds from all the locations, relying solely on spatial memory.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/neur...s-not-foes
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#45

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 04:30 AM)JesseB Wrote: Psychopaths are most commonly found in the top 1% on the planet, the most powerful people. Frankly as distasteful as it may be to some, they do have a role to play in this world, and the world would likely suffer without them...

Distasteful definitely.  And also true...

"In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39
senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same
tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are
incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosse's scores either matched or exceeded those of
the patients.

In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic
personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the
characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and
manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a
lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations."

Board B & Fritzon K, Disordered personalities at work, Psychology, Crime & Law, 11:1, 17-32.

This profile of psychopathy is matched almost exactly by Trump.  The point is proven.      Grim
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#46

Is empathy outdated?
Too true.

If you have a boss, chances are he's higher on the spectrum toward psychopathy than you.

The worst tend to be those corporate bosses.
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#47

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 01:53 PM)tomilay Wrote: In fact those traits are not even restricted to primates.  People are not different from other animals in any quantitative way.

There's also the story about the bear saving the crow. It's an anecdotal story, and maybe I read too much into it, but it seems the only purpose of his actions are to save the bird. He could easily crush it with his paws or jaws.

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#48

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 05:03 AM)Mark Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 03:03 AM)Dānu Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 02:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote: I don't think empathy works like that at all.  We already can vary our empathy depending on our level of identification.  If I identify with the Eagles football team, I will be sorry if they lose.  If not, not.

That's varying how we cognize the inputs to empathy, not empathy itself.  If you recognize a relevant agent as suffering, you have a response.  Yes, factors can moderate that response, but there's still a basic phenomena at root, independent of moderating influences.  You're confusing the fact of influences upon an empathy response with the empathy response itself.  The most prominent example being animal suffering.  If we identify animal suffering as the same as human suffering, the emotional response results.  It's not purely an artifact of the process of identification.  (Some hypothesize that mirror neurons are involved.  I'm not real knowledgable about the subject.)


What I'm getting from the Harari book is that the evolution that has made the difference for us is cultural.  Once we developed the capacity for fictitious belief we don't really change our capacity for or physiology of empathy anymore, we just learn to attach it to new fictitious creations like the divine right of the king to rule or manifest destiny or supply side economics and so on.  It is also what allows us to work cooperatively in huge numbers, as no other large animal can.  The basic genetic platform no longer needs to change and waiting for it to do so would be inefficient by comparison.  Fascinating book through the first chapters.  Have you picked it up?  I had to wait through something like 60 holds for my turn.  I'm actually thinking of breaking my rule and buying my own copy.

PM me the details. I don't generally read except for my book clubs, but I might make an exception. There's a local professor who is giving a talk on the history of racism in 19th century Minnesota, which I unfortunately will miss, but he's got another book on the subject available electronically from my library. I may not read it, as my motivation to read is largely driven by book clubs, but it's a topic that interests me.
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#49

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 02:35 PM)abaris Wrote:
(01-09-2019, 01:53 PM)tomilay Wrote: In fact those traits are not even restricted to primates.  People are not different from other animals in any quantitative way.

There's also the story about the bear saving the crow. It's an anecdotal story, and maybe I read too much into it, but it seems the only purpose of his actions are to save the bird. He could easily crush it with his paws or jaws.


That is a good example that empathy is widespread in the animal kingdom.  One could argue he didn't eat the bird because he already had his food.  But it does not explain why he removed the bird from the water.
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#50

Is empathy outdated?
(01-09-2019, 02:46 PM)tomilay Wrote: But it does not explain why he removed the bird from the water.

Or why he is that careful in order to not hurt the bird.
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