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Empathy and Social Darwinism

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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20 March 2020 13:18
 

Apart from psychopathy empathy is pretty much a default position for humans.  What happens to this fancy feature under stress and what responses are activated when faced with a pandemic?  The hoarding of toilet paper and other items doesn’t seem rational but I think I understand it.  Like when the sight of empty shelves compels folks to buy whatever’s left.  I think I understand that too.  It’s not a moral failing.  This is just what happens when a person perceives a threat.  It doesn’t seem reasonable until you appreciate how profoundly stress effects the brain and the confusion it creates.  Then it starts to make more sense and suddenly seems much more forgivable.  Especially for those who subscribe to the notion that free will is an illusion. 

Temporary social distancing and minding the needs of our neighbours is a measure easily accomplished by every responsible citizen.  A virus doesn’t care about the political views of its host.  The media needs to allow doctors to take centre stage and politicians should shift their focus to addressing the immediate needs of their constituents.  Clearing a path for the most vulnerable to access the services they need.  Allowing science to convey the information will provide the sort of accuracy needed to quell the fear.  Science lays no blame nor does it pat itself on the back.  This is about as objective as it gets so setting aside the tribal warfare long enough to fight the common enemy seems fairly simple.

With tensions running so high it’s hard to see back through to our cooperative instincts.  And coming up with creative ways of blowing off steam together while apart.  Coping with the source of stress even when the cause is often built into the delivery system meant to alleviate it.  I guess it’s all about how we manage The Shock Doctrine…by keeping our hands clean.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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20 March 2020 21:16
 

Man you know how to capture a moment like no other.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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21 March 2020 07:10
 

Whaddya think, Doc, will people be able to give as much leeway for intellectual and emotional expression as they do physical proximity?

 
 
Jb8989
 
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Jb8989
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21 March 2020 09:30
 
LadyJane - 21 March 2020 07:10 AM

Whaddya think, Doc, will people be able to give as much leeway for intellectual and emotional expression as they do physical proximity?

It’s a good question when you think about it. For the most part entire communities of people socially adapt to think and sound at least somewhat alike. Anything too different is either welcomed or not based on cultural attitudes that I think typically err on the side of not accepting expressions too distinct from the hometeam’s. It could be art or intelligence, but gander too far outside the local norms and nomenclatures and rejection or shame will probably be the popular reaction you get. On the other hand, space from one another is usually reserved for people would could afford it. It’s expensive to have a car, a home with some space, and the availability to frequent good places with small crowds. Imagine if “social distancing” went geographic and the concept wasn’t to stand six feet from the next person, but rather it was to stop populating the planet in such a way where our resources are being used to build upward instead of outward?

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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21 March 2020 13:00
 
Jb8989 - 21 March 2020 09:30 AM
LadyJane - 21 March 2020 07:10 AM

Whaddya think, Doc, will people be able to give as much leeway for intellectual and emotional expression as they do physical proximity?

It’s a good question when you think about it. For the most part entire communities of people socially adapt to think and sound at least somewhat alike. Anything too different is either welcomed or not based on cultural attitudes that I think typically err on the side of not accepting expressions too distinct from the hometeam’s. It could be art or intelligence, but gander too far outside the local norms and nomenclatures and rejection or shame will probably be the popular reaction you get. On the other hand, space from one another is usually reserved for people would could afford it. It’s expensive to have a car, a home with some space, and the availability to frequent good places with small crowds. Imagine if “social distancing” went geographic and the concept wasn’t to stand six feet from the next person, but rather it was to stop populating the planet in such a way where our resources are being used to build upward instead of outward?

I see what you’re saying.  The extent of the patience people are able to extend depends on several factors.  Including self interest and preservation.  Does it end roughly at the point at which you become a pariah for forcing unfamiliar ideas by widening the social circle?  Like asking religious folks to question their beliefs and watching them close off to new perspectives.  The perception of fear can spread as quickly as this virus.  As to building upward instead of outward, it may not be so much about a short step off the lift or a long stride in the country as it is the footprints we leave behind.  Given the time and space of the fortunate ones you describe I wonder what instincts will prevail as the situation worsens.  And what sort of mental preparation can serve us best to aid in this endeavour.  A sense of humour, fer instance.  Disarming good looks and whatnot.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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21 March 2020 17:21
 
LadyJane - 21 March 2020 01:00 PM
Jb8989 - 21 March 2020 09:30 AM
LadyJane - 21 March 2020 07:10 AM

Whaddya think, Doc, will people be able to give as much leeway for intellectual and emotional expression as they do physical proximity?

It’s a good question when you think about it. For the most part entire communities of people socially adapt to think and sound at least somewhat alike. Anything too different is either welcomed or not based on cultural attitudes that I think typically err on the side of not accepting expressions too distinct from the hometeam’s. It could be art or intelligence, but gander too far outside the local norms and nomenclatures and rejection or shame will probably be the popular reaction you get. On the other hand, space from one another is usually reserved for people would could afford it. It’s expensive to have a car, a home with some space, and the availability to frequent good places with small crowds. Imagine if “social distancing” went geographic and the concept wasn’t to stand six feet from the next person, but rather it was to stop populating the planet in such a way where our resources are being used to build upward instead of outward?

I see what you’re saying.  The extent of the patience people are able to extend depends on several factors.  Including self interest and preservation.  Does it end roughly at the point at which you become a pariah for forcing unfamiliar ideas by widening the social circle?  Like asking religious folks to question their beliefs and watching them close off to new perspectives.  The perception of fear can spread as quickly as this virus.  As to building upward instead of outward, it may not be so much about a short step off the lift or a long stride in the country as it is the footprints we leave behind.  Given the time and space of the fortunate ones you describe I wonder what instincts will prevail as the situation worsens.  And what sort of mental preparation can serve us best to aid in this endeavour.  A sense of humour, fer instance.  Disarming good looks and whatnot.

Your guess is as good as mine. It’s funny because most people only know how to deal with anxiety by avoiding it long enough that it eventually feels normal. I think one of the challenges of legitimately being woke is understanding that people’s knee-jerk reactions are sometimes just the tip of the iceberg of the rational application of irrational thoughts, which quite ironically are being very well protected by all that anxiety. It’s a delicate dance to broach a hardwired irrational belief. What you say is as important as how you say it, and more often than not it doesn’t even matter because you’ll end up the pariah anyway. I guess it’s best to tread lightly when you probe deeply.

Regarding the now, people are awake without being woke. They’re using all this new cognitive energy to be aware of what’s going on, how they feel, where they walk, when they shop etc. Personally I don’t see a lot of panicked or even fearful people out there. They just look exhausted to me.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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22 March 2020 01:28
 

Socialism, as those who aspire to it might think of it, is a political framework for empathy. Any population without mutual empathy is not ready for socialism. It requires an empathy that isn’t conspicuously divided in parallel with traditional social groupings.

If one arrives at this Universal Basic Empathy (UBE), it feels like a virtue. It is convincing that anyone with the same perspective would also see virtue-esness. Then we could vote our way to empathy. No, not really.

If Mr. Yang’s UBI scheme were in place, that might have been because it was sold as part of a greater preparedness for pandemics and other disruptions to the economy (use your imagination). If no employer had to fret about a basic living wage or health care for workers with a perceived dubious worthiness of empathy, folks’ lives would be less impacted by their employer’s internal struggles and biases. Many people have hard limits on their empathy and it still feels like a virtue right up to where it stops.

One’s view of this pandemic and what we should do about it appears to correspond with some limits of empathy. For example, empathy range is always in inverse proportion to one’s personal ammo stockpile.

For budget-sized empathy, we face the loss of some cartoonish elderly folks in rocking chairs but their soon to be released estate will numb the grief that has to come eventually anyway. Ask not what this country can mail to you, ask what you can pass on to your grandchildren.

Premium empathy is costly. It has to include empathy for those professionals who now say we must defend their poorly prepared system from being overwhelmed by disrupting our ability to pay their bills. And include empathy for those who Picasso would damn.

If we do the big check for everybody idea, imagine how much empathy that might evoke. Can the gov blindly hand out a check to every adult without some discrimination? Let’s get Big Government off our empathy. Some won’t need the check. Let them pass it on to the most needy in their circle. If the whole circle is fine, give it to a food-bank or something or toss it in the shredder. Alas, some pledge to use it to buy more ammo.

[ Edited: 22 March 2020 01:35 by Nhoj Morley]
 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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22 March 2020 02:44
 
Nhoj Morley - 22 March 2020 01:28 AM

Socialism, as those who aspire to it might think of it, is a political framework for empathy. Any population without mutual empathy is not ready for socialism. It requires an empathy that isn’t conspicuously divided in parallel with traditional social groupings.

At times like this I can observe both empathy and selfishness being applied to the situation in various proportions. Peoples idea of socialism might only go so far, then they reach for a stick, it might be a surprise to us all to see exactly where our own hard limit is.

Being at the sharp end of social care I find my own limits being stretched. Along with the need to protect myself and those I care for, I am also required to care for the vulnerable and sick, adding to that now those who can’t cope with isolation and are beginning to feel suicidal.
It’s interesting to be an observer of my own self and seeing what my own limits are just now, or it would be interesting if I wasn’t still in the thick.

 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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22 March 2020 06:02
 

It’s hard to notice any ramping up of anxiety when the baseline for so many is already set so high.  That’s why empty shelves are fascinating.  I think about people getting home and wondering why they purchased what they did.  “Cat food?  But I don’t own a cat.”  That sort of thing.  I don’t think they’re all that panicked either.  Tired and worried and running on auto pilot.  What an excellent way to circumvent stress for busy folks on the run.  And now it’s time to deal with this sudden shift of focus.  It’s like screeching to a halt or being kicked out of a dream.  Are people prepared for what solitude may bring?  Allocating time and embracing reality without becoming overwhelmed is not for the faint of heart.  The brain can be as kind as it can be cruel. 

Imagine all the people who never followed politics before and finally have the time.  That crash course may come as a real eye opener for those just tuning in.  It’s a lot to take.  The trick is finding a source of comfort that provides a temporary escape from the onslaught of information but doesn’t cradle us all the way back to a mental torture chamber.  We’re all under pressure and it seems like the perfect time to reinvigorate the art of conversation.  Where humility trounces arrogance and the echo it creates.  People don’t like being talked at even at the best of times.  I think this could make a pretty decent fallout shelter once we get all that squared away.  Besides, I’m pretty sure those are the folks who won’t fair well when the shit truly hits the fan.  My money’s on the auto pilot cat food buying people.

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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22 March 2020 10:25
 
LadyJane - 22 March 2020 06:02 AM

It’s hard to notice any ramping up of anxiety when the baseline for so many is already set so high…

I think there is a simmering of emotion just under the surface, I don’t think it would take very much for folk to begin acting badly. I hope I am wrong about this, I really do, in fact I would be ecstatic to find out my thinking was faulty and that an instinct to protect each other would overpower and inkling towards creating behaviour of a more partisan nature.

It’s Mothers Day here today and my Mam is 75, so she is practicing self isolation. It was quite upsetting to speak to her through the small crack in the window she opened at the front of her house… even worse to see her drop my boys pocket money to him through the very same crack.
These are strange and upsetting times.

 
Jb8989
 
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22 March 2020 12:07
 

Yeah but is fear and panick really empathy’s antithesis? I feel like empaths walk around nervous as a matter of course.

Some studies show that anxiety defines us behaviorally more than anything else we experience emotionally. I feel like a little non-emergent panick was just the vacation from ourselves that society needed. If it were smart, it wouldn’t just learn how to handle the next big thing better from a political response standpoint, but also when things subside taking a good look at how quickly something so precious could go. Naturally god’s lesson here is that this too shall…no that’s not it. It’s that Jesus did the same shit and God’s cool with the master plan.

 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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22 March 2020 12:47
 
Jb8989 - 22 March 2020 12:07 PM

Yeah but is fear and panick really empathy’s antithesis? I feel like empaths walk around nervous as a matter of course…

No you’re probably right, it’s not it’s antithesis, but fear and panic could be the antecedent that eventually triggers either a negative or positive response in an individual don’t you think? Fingers crossed for positive.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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22 March 2020 13:16
 

I find great irony in this moment.

Right when many nations, especially the United States, have embraced and seem to have locked-in ultra-capitalism, libertarianism, neo-liberalism and plutocracy — basically institutionalized social darwinism — a worldwide life threatening disease appears.

Covid-19 doesn’t care about you how many zeroes you have in your bank account. It doesn’t care about an ever climbing stock market, or stock buybacks by obscenely rich CEOs. It doesn’t care if you believe in the Rapture or that the earth is only 6,000 years old. You can stockpile in your underground bunker enough ammo and weapons to kill hundreds of people, but you can’t shoot a virus.

Disease and death are the most democratic of all things.

Funny, how when the existential cards are on the table, suddenly science and experts matter. Suddenly, logic and reason count. Suddenly, a fully functioning government is no longer the problem, but the solution. Suddenly, when a level headed, clear-thinking and compassionate leader is what is most needed, the actual person in charge only reveals his incompetence and small mindedness, being unable to rise to the occasion.

A collective decision that has been made: To sacrifice of the world economy, in order to save lives.

Fear has conquered greed. The bottom line has changed. It’s gone from making as much money as possible, to staying alive and healthy.

The rich and the poor are now in the same boat. Like it or not, we’re all in this together. We can act like scared animals, or, instead, act like human beings capable of reason and maybe even empathy and compassion.

 
 
Poldano
 
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22 March 2020 22:05
 

Biological Darwinism trumps Social Darwinism?

I see empathy as an invention to mitigate some of the effects described by Biological Darwinism. Social Darwinism can be seen as a subsequent invention of elites to justify a withholding of empathy from non-elites, whose plight threatened the continued sense of well-being of those elites. In our current situation, Biological Darwinism does indeed seem to relegate Social Darwinism to second place, despite some attempts to apply Social Darwinism with terms such as Chinese Virus and Kung Flu. Empathy always acts more powerfully for those close, and extends to those farther away only by way of well-engineered stories. Those now stocking up on ammunition, from “essential” firearms merchants, only show the same attitudes as those shown more subtly by Social Darwinism’s elites, consciously distinguishing their prepared selves from those who are unprepared, who may attack them en masse for their carefully hoarded toilet paper. Thus, engineering stories another way can help restrict empathy to those within a zone of control and responsibility.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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23 March 2020 16:37
 
Poldano - 22 March 2020 10:05 PM

Biological Darwinism trumps Social Darwinism?

I see empathy as an invention to mitigate some of the effects described by Biological Darwinism. Social Darwinism can be seen as a subsequent invention of elites to justify a withholding of empathy from non-elites, whose plight threatened the continued sense of well-being of those elites. In our current situation, Biological Darwinism does indeed seem to relegate Social Darwinism to second place, despite some attempts to apply Social Darwinism with terms such as Chinese Virus and Kung Flu. Empathy always acts more powerfully for those close, and extends to those farther away only by way of well-engineered stories. Those now stocking up on ammunition, from “essential” firearms merchants, only show the same attitudes as those shown more subtly by Social Darwinism’s elites, consciously distinguishing their prepared selves from those who are unprepared, who may attack them en masse for their carefully hoarded toilet paper. Thus, engineering stories another way can help restrict empathy to those within a zone of control and responsibility.

That’s interesting. What about this as a theory? Compassion is responsible for instinctual caring behavior. The extension of compassion to people outside of our immediate group through those well-engineered stories that you talked about is by definition empathy, not the extrapolation of it. The stories themselves therefore can be one of two forms of empathy: (1) cognitive empathy, where the story is just a story that helps us help others for subjective personal reasons, or (2) emotional empathy, where there’s an innate compulsion to tell those stories due to a deeper sense of how other people feel.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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24 March 2020 05:56
 

I think of empathy as being involuntary whereas compassion is doled out as a conscious choice.  I’ve often seen compassion extended by those who are familiar to those they feel are worthy.  A commodity expressed conditionally based on feelings toward the recipients of our sympathy.

 
 
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