Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jeremy Rifkin's Empathetic Civilization

In our GT class we discussed Jeremy Rifkin's thoughts on empathy. He argues that human empathy is beginning to extend to all of life in the biosphere. But I think that empathy is limited between different people.  Not everyone is capable to imagine the extremes of putting themselves in someone else's shoes. Depending on that someone, we can only feel a limited amount of empathy. For example, it will be easier for a student to feel the empathy of failing a test than it is for them to feel what a cancer patient may be feeling. Some feelings are easily reflected upon while others are not. It tends to be easier to empathize with people who are experiencing something we have may have already experienced. The possibility of global emphatic consciousness is idealistic. Although convincing, there was no proof that increased empathy could save global problems. The world's most pressing issues such as global warming, poverty, and disease have many more factors that are unaffected by human empathy.   I don't think we can extend our empathy to the entire human race well enough to make an impact.  Empathy allows us to feel what others feel to some limit. But is that enough to make a change? "The problem comes when we try to turn feeling into action. Empathy makes you more aware of other people’s suffering, but it’s not clear it actually motivates you to take moral action or prevents you from taking immoral action." (David Brooks)

Brooks, David. "The Limits of Empathy." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.

"The Empathic Civilization | Jeremy Rifkin." About. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.

1 comment:

  1. Good, I would've liked to have seen you elaborate on David Brooks's quote to conclude your post.