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Empathy and Social Darwinism

 
Philanthropy
 
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Philanthropy
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24 March 2020 11:24
 

LadyJane, since you’re an admin, do you know how to get in touch with Sam Harris?

 
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24 March 2020 12:53
 
Philanthropy - 24 March 2020 11:24 AM

LadyJane, since you’re an admin, do you know how to get in touch with Sam Harris?

I think you can find what you’re looking for at http://samharris.org/ if you scroll down to the contact information in order to send an email.  There you will also find access to Twitter and Facebook if that is more to your liking.  I’m afraid that’s about as much help as I can offer as Sam Harris has mostly abandoned this forum.  Leaving us adrift on the ocean like a cruise ship during a pandemic. 

Swing back by if you get scuppered.  Good luck!

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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24 March 2020 13:21
 
LadyJane - 24 March 2020 05:56 AM

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.

Spot on.

A compassionate perspective, perhaps of greater bandwidth, exposes more detail to our senses that can evoke a broader feeling of empathy.

We benefit from The Boss’s compassion like an old dog allowed to spend its last years in the backyard.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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24 March 2020 17:47
 
LadyJane - 24 March 2020 05:56 AM

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.

Meta warning:

I don’t know. There seems to be no shortage of schools of thought on causes of emotions. Very popular is the idea that the content and context of our thoughts formulate our perceptions of the world, and when we’re perceiving the world, which is all waking hours, we’re experiencing emotions based back again on the thoughts that our perceptions knew long enough to mold into beliefs that are reliable enough to be anticipatory.

Now, I don’t know where the subconscious and conscious meet in the process, but I’m beginning to think that emotions linger experientially much longer than thoughts, making me wonder if it’s not all involuntary except for the random feelings that otherwise interrupt beliefs either unexpectedly or meditatively.

 
 
Poldano
 
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25 March 2020 01:46
 
Jb8989 - 23 March 2020 04:37 PM
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.

I prefer not to get too involved in discussions of causality using terms that have too many interpretations. That being said, I don’t think extrapolation was the word I used as the opposite of withholding. If I used it, my bad, but I think extending or extension is the better term, because either implies that actual empathy goes out to people identified in the stories, rather than something else that is an extrapolation of it.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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25 March 2020 06:26
 
Nhoj Morley - 24 March 2020 01:21 PM
LadyJane - 24 March 2020 05:56 AM

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.

Spot on.

A compassionate perspective, perhaps of greater bandwidth, exposes more detail to our senses that can evoke a broader feeling of empathy.

We benefit from The Boss’s compassion like an old dog allowed to spend its last years in the backyard.

Perhaps indeed. Bloom loves the idea of rational compassion and he made a similar point about using compassion hesitantly but adequately, and also as a basis to get to a better understanding of what’s going on since people are way more cooperative and willing to go the extra mile under compassionate circumstances. The idea that - say for example - a highly profitable company shouldn’t use too much compassion for bottom-line reasons seems like an antiquated model anymore.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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25 March 2020 06:38
 

Let there be no doubt that keeping this place afloat is nothing short of an act of charity by our favoured forum founder.  And one that is rarely met with the sort of gratitude you’d expect from a bunch of self aware animals that have been on borrowed time since the sinking of Project Reason.  Perhaps the best way of maintaining compassion for this forum is to never ever read it.

Are we at least able to extend that circle of compassion when the chips are down or are we more concerned about the pile of chips we draw?  When we tally heads and tails can we really count the cost?  Would we even be talking about the same thing?  What if chips are crisps or trump a preference for the cheesy? 

I want to know how things are going on the ground.  I want to hear about the real life experiences from the front line workers to those leaning out their windows every night to cheer them on.  Reminding us that sometimes doing nothing is itself an act of kindness.  All the regular stuff is going on like heart attacks and overdoses and all the helpless babies are being born just like before.  Only now you can’t be by their side when it happens.  You can’t be there when they come into this world and you can’t be there when they leave.  That’s the sort of business that narrows the road.  It changes yer perspective as it’s throwing empathy into overdrive. 

In my neck of the woods COVID-19 drive through clinics are setting up everywhere for anyone feeling symptoms.  Then a protocol takes place to assess the patients rolling in and they determine whether or not they even need a test at all.  Things are changing quickly here in Canada.  Two weeks ago a high risk patient walked into a hospital for a scheduled MRI and it was business as usual.  Yesterday that same patient entered a different hospital in the same province for a monthly blood transfusion and things had changed dramatically. 

Tents and trailers serve as checkpoints where gowned and guarded nurses are aided by a subtle police presence to facilitate the shepherding.  The entrances are barricaded with fencing so patients can be screened efficiently and only prompted through if they require life sustaining treatments.  There’s one way in and one way out and next to no visitors allowed.  I suspect that too will change.  Luckily we value health care here in Canada and have a system driven by compassion rather than profit.  I sure hope it stays that way.

We’re all on the same boat ultimately and yet some people only notice when someone they know is on the plank.  At the peak of human creativity some folks still can’t manage to separate the artist from the art.  A deluded self perception that leaves the choices of our compassion plain for all to see.  Everyone except ourselves, that is.  That is where belief enters in.  The thing that doesn’t require any evidence at all.  And allows people to hold onto a perception they hope that silence will forgive.  But it won’t.

Please don’t forget to tip yer nurses.  And donate blood where you can.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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25 March 2020 22:36
 

If we feel empathy, it is provoked by what we see and what we understand about what we see. If one is prone to empathy, be careful about what you present to yourself.

We make the same moral calculations we are making now all the time without headlines. We say don’t make the cure worse than the disease but for whom? The greatest number (by some calculation) and hope the lesser number will understand. How hard can it be?

Some folks get hit hard by this virus. I am three Bacon-steps from a fatality. A forty-ish lad at the car plant. This sixty-ish lad can assume to be one of the three in five people who experience it eventually. I might be fine or I might be slammed. If it is bad and I need a busy respirator, how will I stack up in someone else’s moral equation? How much empathy will I evoke?

Not to mention my own empathy for those who must decide. If I think about it, I will let it into my moral equation. It’s only the tip of the empathy iceberg. Tell me about the patients in line behind me that I am more worthy than. Think of how much more in inheritable assets I could offer now compared to festering for another couple of decades.

It takes several pounding flashes of self-interest to keep from being overwhelmed. I should show interest in my self but we’re not suppose to believe that we have one. Other people don’t need one to evoke empathy. Rational compassion is empathy provoked by what we present to ourselves with rational thoughts. We put the compassion carrot in front of the empathy horse. Choose your carrots carefully.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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26 March 2020 19:19
 

I couldn’t improve on those posts if I tried, but I remember a time where mind-over-matter meant grit could overcome temporary pain. The phrase got bastardized to mean it could overcome injury. It couldn’t. Make no mistake, covid 19 will be an injury, but for the truly gritty-still, it’ll be just that. Nothing more. And while you can’t control your genetic exposure to the worst of it, you can cheers to it and say fuck off.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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27 March 2020 07:22
 

If only you could reason with disease.  At this stage of the game it seems our hunting and gathering instincts are in full swing and human survival still depends entirely on our ability to ration.

 
 
Jb8989
 
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28 March 2020 06:54
 

I’m in the thick of it in America. From what I can gather, people work so hard at trying to stay positive for their loved ones that during the real early stages, denial was a huge issue. The “don’t worry about it” syndrome lasted about a week after the widespread breaking news, and then when people started taking it more seriously, they still struggled staying close to home and eating in. We’re a spoiled society, I guess, but IMO people who couldn’t transition quickly enough from blind positivism to caution were the biggest problems early on.

The other thing I’m noticing is that healthcare workers’ oaths feel like they’re starting to seem challenged. If this thing was much bigger, we’d be so screwed. Nobody wants to simply acquiesce to getting the Covid, but many already have and it’s looking more likely many more need to.

Everyone wants to know when things will get back to normal again, but god damn is that word subjective.  I found it to be a tactical error to close all things but grocery stores and pharmacies in areas where the virus is rampant. Can someone help me understand why wouldn’t the grocery stores then become petri dishes?

[ Edited: 28 March 2020 06:57 by Jb8989]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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29 March 2020 07:40
 

I suspect closing the grocery stores in Manhattan would send all those shoppers to the boroughs and instead of one petri dish you’d have five petri dishes.  The virus would spread even faster and place even more pressure on the health care system.  And expecting doctors and nurses to do things that would’ve gotten them fired a few short weeks ago is pretty outrageous, to say the least.  What is becoming clear is that socialism seems to be the only thing that will save capitalism.  Best not to scratch that rash, I suppose.

 
 
Jefe
 
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29 March 2020 14:01
 
Jb8989 - 28 March 2020 06:54 AM

Everyone wants to know when things will get back to normal again, but god damn is that word subjective.

Some macro-thinkers agree with that:

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/19/coronavirus-effect-economy-life-society-analysis-covid-135579

Also, without nearby groceries, more people would have to travel and increase people-proximity in distribution and delivery schemes….though there is probably curb-side pickup and delivery in NYC…

 
 
LadyJane
 
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01 April 2020 08:28
 

I think when you prepare for every contingency you tend not to imagine what happens when you don’t.  Each new day brings another round of questions.  Questions the imagination would seemingly rather not leave unanswered.  I guess the more things spiral out of control the more we seek solace in simplified solutions.  While we’re killing time.  Like a puzzle to solve.  Sure, we can ponder life and death all day but that’s less fun and my curiosity is very much focused on the concept of “essential” services.  And why.

Hospitals are an obvious one.  But what about all the cooped up folks getting antsy?  Figuring it’s the perfect time to embark on that home repair they’ve been putting off or drag out the treadmill and finally embark on the new years resolution they’ve been procrastinating.  That may just compound the problem by filling emergency rooms with cut off fingers and wipeout accidents that could’ve been avoided if they’d only caught up on their reading instead.  How much more garbage will there be for collection when people get bored and start cleaning out their closets? 

Eye doctors and dentists are probably easier to anticipate.  Infections need attention but check ups can wait.  Veterinarians?  Probably on an emergency base only.  Mechanics must be getting creative.  I would guess they delegate someone to wipe everything down while wearing something similar to hospital gear before getting into strange vehicles.  Grocery stores, pharmacies and banks make sense but they count on the cooperation of the masses to keep their composure.  And their distance.  Are cops pulling many people over for speeding?  All kinds of room on the open roads out there these days.  Are people evicting tenants who don’t pay their rent?  I hardly think anyone is coming to physically remove you, so, sit tight.
 
The beer and liquor stores are a bit harder to fathom until you imagine what would happen if they weren’t.  Mayhem.  Think of all the robberies.  And no police to respond what with all the squatters to deal with.  Will the “He was coming right at me” be replaced with “He threatened to spit in my mouth” as an explanation for justifiable shootings?  And we’re right back to flooding the hospitals again.  I think it goes without saying lawyers are just as useless and unnecessary as we always imagined.  Like insurance brokers and real estate agents.  As the world turns. 

We really do take a lot for granted.  I guess it’s better than fretting over the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death.

 
 
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01 April 2020 16:37
 
LadyJane - 01 April 2020 08:28 AM

We really do take a lot for granted.  I guess it’s better than fretting over the existential pain of living with the consciousness of death.

Sometimes, the best possible thing to do in an absurd situation, is to laugh at it all.

https://youtu.be/8KPbJ0-DxTc

 
 
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