Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Objectivism and empathy

Rate this topic


Gary Robinson
 Share

Recommended Posts

"In general, I think of people who have the need to advocate for empathy, as suspect mind-haters, therefore anti-life whether they know it or not."

 

I think you are confusing "empathy" with the idea of advocating for "primacy of emotions" or even "compassion".  Empathy is the cognitive trait that allows certain animals (including man) to grasp the cognitive states of other living beings.  This activity is initiated at a pre-verbal level in humans (babies and adults) but it also parallels other structures in the brain that handle abstract thought, reasoning, emotions, memory, etc.  All systems are equally necessary for rational, healthy behavior.  One is not of greater value than the other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, no. The cross-over into compassion has existed in research and popular usage well before my utilization of "empathy". Latterly, they are treated synonymously. In my view it is a pity, as the earlier C.O.D definition of empathy-

"The power of projecting one's personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation" -

is uniquely discrete, one not only referring to other people, but objects too.

If you recall, I argued strongly against the reason vs. empathy/compassion false dichotomy which you seem to think I have now proposed.

But we have very differing notions: Empathy you explain as "the cognitive trait...to grasp the cognitive states..."

is opposite to my understanding of empathy/compassion, as the innate faculty of recognizing (and responding to) ~emotional~ conditions of others.

Agreed, all "systems" are equally necessary, as you say - though, in the realm of mental health.

But equal in consciousness?

Do I understand correctly your remarkable claim that reason is "not of greater value than the other."?

Edited by whYNOT
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Empathy/ compassion to whom and for what? Altruist morality presupposes that we should feel empathy to each and every man regardless. Before they supported their claim by religious commandments, today they use social evolution theory for that purpose and therefore see no difference between apes and men. But empathy of course is not a religious imperative, nor it is a social instinct. Like friendship and love it is an emotional response to values. Only such an empathy could be sincere. And man's emotional response depends on his basic implicit or explicit premises. Therefore dichotomy between mind and empathy is a trade mark of altruist. No man could fully internalize altruist morality and live. The requirement of this morality to feel empathy to just every man on earth is simply impossible to accomplish. 

Edited by Leonid
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the first fime I noticed this topic, and just wanted to note my interest in it and appreciation of the OP and all the following comments.  I don't really have anything specific to add at this point, but will continue to follow as more comments are added.

 

Carry on...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But we have very differing notions: Empathy you explain as "the cognitive trait...to grasp the cognitive states..."

is opposite to my understanding of empathy/compassion, as the innate faculty of recognizing (and responding to) ~emotional~ conditions of others.

Some context from psychology, there is emotional empathy, and cognitive empathy:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy#Types_of_empathy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why not:

"Empathy" in its proper sense isn't strictly relevant to the OP; it's commonly used as an anticonceptual camouflage for "mercy" (which is the actual issue here).

However, I'd like to indicate briefly that since you are using "empathy" in its innocent meaning, as the capacity to recognize the emotions of others, you should ask yourself what "the emotions of others" refers to, in reality, and how such a concept is formed.

On what does such an assertion rest?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any emotional response to another's emotions requires both the knowledge and evaluation of such, first.

To "know" such things instinctively, the same way one knows the requirements of one's own body (such as food and water), means that one may know something about reality BEFORE learning about it.

If your first thought, when reading this, is to refer to some scientific article or study, then I would suggest you start with Kant's explanation of "a priori" knowledge and its origins.

You would be appalled to see how far his influence has penetrated the sciences, today.

---

I digress. That in itself would be a trivial mistake, if "empathy" were the only issue at hand.

But when most people use that word today, what they actually mean is closer to "mercy"; the precise concept is "appeasement".

Appeasement of any whim, for any reason, simply because its perpetrator is "human".

So when you say "instinct for empathy" what you refer to is incorrect, but innocent.

But it enables others to use this "instinct for empathy" to justify the obliteration of objectivity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's funny, incidentally.

Objectivism's loudest opponents frequently compare its morality to that of a sociopath. But a serial killer, for instance, isn't Rationally Selfish; his entire existence hinges on the thoughts and feelings of other people.

Objectivism isn't sociopathic at all.

It's autistic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...