Tag Archives: evolution

Empathy (social foresight glossary)

Empathy inside – how we can hope to survive using our sociability

Here is Jeremy Rifkin about empathy, very nicely animated. To be more concise, this is about the grand view of the “empathic civilisaiton” which is unfolding in historical steps, starting with our biologically inbuilt empathy. From tribes to religious communities to nation identities and finally the consciousness of planetary connectedness. This is definitely worth to watch. It is time to adapt our thinking (and how we build our systems, educate kids ….) to the fact of homo empathicus.

PS: This is a great talk. Adding only some critical remarks: The issue of empathy, love, altruism have been not only neglected, but fighted by “hard science” for too long. It is fine that science acknowledges, what intelligent observation has told us for thousands of years and what is codified in a secondary step in wisdom literature, the mythological  storytelling and commandments of many (if not all) religions.

Philosophers for centuries did not need MRI scan to understand this basic  traits of nature. Today, since we live in a scientific civilisation the legitimation mechanisms are based on “scientific storytelling” and objective measurement. Historical irony: Empathy has been “discovered” (mirror neurons firing), in exactly the paradigmatic “modern scientific” lab situation of experimenting with animals as if they did not feel anything, i.e. supressing the empathy (what has been the hybris of a branch of modernity – Descartes and his disciples).

Update 2011-07-27

Interesting discussion about how hardwired empathy is in mirror neurons:  www.dysorganization.com/2011/07/limits-of-empathy.html. Anyway, if socialisation has more contribution in it, this just means that we cannot lean back, we have to be more deliberate to change the societal structures e.g. the learning contents and methods in our schools. It is of minor importance, whether the role of the mirror neurons is basic in the process or not.