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I haven't watched the whole clip yet, but so far I can't agree with him. His arguments seem to be that against the ways that we respond to our empathy, which can be said about any of our faculties. Making decision and acting based on pure reason would have probably just as bad results as decisions based purely on emotion. I'm not sure I would say that having empathy is bad, but if it's the only thing that guides your actions, then yes, it's probably bad.
 

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In other words, his position only makes sense if his point is that empathy has no positive value whatsoever, and he hasnt come close to making that point.
 

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I haven't watched it all as it's a long one, but I think it maybe significant that at the start he says he is an overly(?) empathetic person and that it involves self-help for him. There isn't enough empathy in the world, but to have too much on a personal level can be very debilitating, so it sounds like trying to reinforce personal boundaries maybe.
 

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Hi Chip1021 and Phantasm,

Yes, I agree with you both. I think the author is trying to send out a message to clear a misconception about empathy.

Probably the misconception is that "people should have empathy for other people's problems or success in order to be a good person". But compassion is the more useful skill people should have in order to be a good person. But of course without some little empathy we would behave blindly to other people's experiences.

I understood the two terms as below.

Compassion is the motivation to help someone.

Empathy is the capacity to feel another person's pain or happiness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This might not be related to our topic. But I just remembered a incident that happened recently in the city where I live.

A fire broke out in a building. A family was living on the upper floor. The father saved his 3 children and wife by throwing them down to the crowd below.

 

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Abe,

Interesting that you should bring up compassion as the "skill" that is preferable to empathy in this regard. I would recommend the book "Cruel Compassion" but Thomas Szasz as counterpoint. Though I suppose he never comes out against compassion per se, it still might be an interesting read for you (as an aside, I find almost all of his writings very interesting, whether one agrees with him or not. I've had many debates with myself back and forth after reading his books, lol).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks Chip1021.

I googled the book. I think word "compassion" is used in the title of the book in a Orwellian sense.

If it should be called compassion it is a very misguided one.

Have you read this book. I might read it, not sure yet.
 

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Thanks Chip1021.

I googled the book. I think word "compassion" is used in the title of the book in a Orwellian sense.

If it should be called compassion it is a very misguided one.

Have you read this book. I might read it, not sure yet.
You might be right about that, I'm not sure. It's been awhile since I read it. It wouldn't be the first of his books that I would recommend, but I just thought the issue of "compassion" would be interesting to you. But if it's not the same thing that you were thinking of, then it might not be worth your time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Btw, Chip1021, I agree with you that empathy is not a bad thing. In fact it is essential to be fully human.

I don't know what I said above sounded like empathy is a bad thing.

I think the author of "Against Empathy" is only trying to clear up some misconceptions about it.
 
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