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Against Empathy

Paul Bloom

Against Empathy

by Paul Bloom

Against Empathy

Paul Bloom

5 min
3 key insights
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Against Empathy explains the problems with society's obsession with empathy and explores its limitations while giving us useful alternatives for situations in which it doesn't work.

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Against Empathy

by Paul Bloom

Against Empathy

Paul Bloom

Overview

Reading this title, you might think, "How can anyone be against empathy? Isn't that like being against something inherently good and innocent like puppies or babies?" Not exactly. If you step back and really think about empathy, you might be surprised about what it drives people to do.

Empathy is an emotional response that allows us as humans to 'feel' what other people are going through. It is not to be confused with sympathy, which is feeling for someone, rather than feeling with them. Though stepping into another's shoes doesn't seem all that bad, it does come with limitations. Because empathy is based on emotion, not logic, it doesn't always judge fairly.

In Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, author and Yale psychologist Paul Bloom encourages us to open our eyes and realize that empathy isn't perfect. It doesn't always steer us in the right direction. Empathy is biased, prejudiced, innumerate, overly emotional, and sometimes selfish. The book focuses on research and provides a persuasive argument against empathy in today's world. Though he's not calling for an abolishment of feeling for others, he wants to help people realize that their empathy is getting in the way of making the best decisions.

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"The problems we face as a society and as individuals are rarely due to lack of empathy. Actually, they are often due to too much of it."

Paul Bloom

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Against Empathy

Paul Bloom

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