Against Empathy

Against Empathy

The Case for Rational Compassion

Book - 2016
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We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it. Nothing could be farther from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In AGAINST EMPATHY, Bloom reveals empathy to be one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgment and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. We are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on it, but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion. Basing his argument on groundbreaking scientific findings, Bloom makes the case that some of the worst decisions made by individuals and nations—who to give money to, when to go to war, how to respond to climate change, and who to imprison—are too often motivated by honest, yet misplaced, emotions. With precision and wit, he demonstrates how empathy distorts our judgment in every aspect of our lives, from philanthropy and charity to the justice system; from medical care and education to parenting and marriage. Without empathy, Bloom insists, our decisions would be clearer, fairer, and—yes—ultimately more moral.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062339331
Branch Call Number: 152.41 BLO
Characteristics: 285 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 17, 2018

recommend everyone to read it.

Huge difference between cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. The author is against emotional empathy. Emotional empathy let us to feel what other people feels, which could be so distraught to paralyze us to take effective action and narrow focus of bias could make us to make unwise actions. Cognitive empathy make us understand other people's feeling without experiencing it, lead us positive compassion, kindness , reasoning, more effective way to help people.

Statistical data and reasoning seem always cold, hard to stir people to act, and ever worse when data and reasoning against our intuition and our bias, like "identifiable victim effect". But we should fight our emotion and sensation, use our brain and heart to make wise choices. : check effectiveness of charity)

Dec 12, 2016

Whenever one reads a book where the author has invoked Adam Smith, I would heartily recommend first reading Donald Gibson's outstanding book:
Wealth, Power and the Crisis in Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Prof. Gibson really understood Smith, whereas few Ivy League scholars appear to.

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Jun 17, 2018

K8149 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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Jun 17, 2018

If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart; if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain -- attributes to Winston Churchill.

Jonathan Haidt argues, we are not judges; we are lawyers, making up explanations after the deeds have been done. Reason is impotent. "We celebrate rationality," agrees de Waal, "but when push comes to shove we assign it little weight."


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