Aquarium Blog

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What I mean by empathy

I already mentioned the word empathy twice in references to the american elections. First it was on Scoble comments and second on my post for Russell Beattie.

I think I should try to make it clearer because this is something I have been thinking a lot lately: That by the way of certain cultural patterns, or because of lack of education and misinformation, people get deprived of their natural ability for empathy. That is, their ability to put theirselves in other people's place.

Here is an interesting link: http://samvak.tripod.com/empathy.html. From there I got this:

Empathy is predicated upon and must, therefore, incorporate the following elements:

  • Imagination which is dependent on the ability to imagine;
  • The existence of an accessible Self (self-awareness or self-consciousness);
  • The existence of an available other (other-awareness, recognizing the outside world);
  • The existence of accessible feelings, desires, ideas and representations of actions or their outcomes both in the empathizing Self ("Empathor") and in the Other, the object of empathy ("Empathee");
  • The availability of an aesthetic frame of reference;
  • The availability of a moral frame of reference.

I have the theory that the ultimate goal of human development is for everybody to be free of all kind of slavery (economical dependency, political and religious domination, race or gender discrimination, plain slavery, etc), and that the lack of empathy is the humanity first handicap to achieve this goal.

So for me, I don't care if you are rigth lending or a leftist, a liberal, libertarian, a vagabond or a mogul, American, Indian, Russian, Cuban, Italian, Argentinean, Arab or Jew. If you lack empathy you are not in my club (this is just a joke! as you know, empathic people always want everybody else to be able to join their club!).

Had I finished studying social sciences, I would like to do more research and perhaps write a paper about this. I will google it more tomorrow, maybe somebody already published it.

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