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HAT Forum : Empathy and Goodness : proposer Willa Silver

  • The 519 Community Centre 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Psychologist Mark Davis has suggested that there are 3 important types of empathy. The first is a purely "cognitive" form of empathy that he terms "Perspective-Taking." This is being able to see things from another's point of view. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes.

A second type of empathy Davis terms "Personal Distress." Personal distress is literally feeling another's emotions. When you are watching a scary movie, and you start to empathize with the hero and feel afraid, that is personal distress in action.

The third type of empathy: Empathic Concern. This type is what we most often think about when we hear the term "empathy." It is the ability to recognize another's emotional state, feel in tune with that emotional state, and if it is a negative/distressful emotion, feel and show appropriate concern.

Is there a correlation between empathy and success?

Are we entering the age of empathy vs. “greed is good” 80’s mentality

Can empathy serve as a reliable guide to action?

Can you have too much empathy?

Is empathy biased?  Are we are more prone to feel empathy for attractive people and for those who look like us or share our ethnic or national background.

Is empathy narrow? It connects us to particular individuals, real or imagined, but is insensitive to numerical differences and statistical data,  “If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” 

What are the limits of empathy?

How does goodness relate to empathy?

1.  Is it easy to be good?

2.  Why hasn't goodness always been here?

3.  We always talk about moral matters about good in our society, why don't we do something?

4.  Why don't we know our good?