Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thought-provoking bedtime empathy reading - a link party for you

There has been so, so much going on in the world of empathy studies that I can share with you. Here are a few examples:

Empathy Dynamics in Conflict Transformation - The Manual

Professor Lynne Cameron has recently released her ebook. It's free as a downloadable pdf or from iTunes, or a few cents from Amazon for your Kindle.

Prof. Cameron has some very good ideas in this book; she defines empathy in two parts, automatic and controlled. Automatic empathy she describes as the moment of 'ouch'; when you see someone stub their toe and immediately feel the pain yourself.  Controlled empathy she describes as the pause for thought and a chance to reflect on the person you see before you, which is what I've previously described as conscious empathy. Her manual includes case studies of conflict resolution between groups in Nepal and Kenya. I found it to be an easy read (not technical) and well worth my time.

Paul Bloom - Against Empathy forum debate

Here we have Mr. Bloom, doing what he does so well. He reminds us that empathy is not an all-encompassing solution to fix the world's problems. Then he goes on to describe several situations and studies that point to how empathy fails us; failing us in social policy, failing us in relationships with doctors, failing us in relationships in general. He argues that empathy isn't the best use of our personal effort. Instead, as I understand it, he thinks we should focus on the other social-positive elements of our relationships with other people like (his phrase) non-empathetic compassion, kindness, and good-will towards others.

This is again, another excellent read and I highly suggest reading both his side, and the responses to this article in the comments section.


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