• Ines
    6
    Hi!

    I've been thinking about what would happen if everyone were to care for others more than they cared for themselves. If everyone was the opposite of narcissistic and took care of others instead of caring about themselves. Would the world be a perfect place to live on then? Would one care as much for everyone or would one care more for some compared to others? And what sort of problems would arrise under these circumstanses?

    I'm interested in hearing what others think!
  • Echarmion
    854
    The problem with empathy is that it does not multiply. Our sense of empathy can deal with maybe a handful of individuals at once. More than that just get thrown out. Worse, really big catastrophes are so unimaginable in the amount of suffering they produce that empathy simply shuts down.

    So empathy is ultimately not a good solution for making the world a better place.
  • Ines
    6

    So according to you one can not care for everyone at the same time because it's too much to handle? That would support the idea that you automatically care more for some than others, but this doesn't have to be logical or based on how much a person deserves your empathy. Often it's linked to how important a certain person is to you personally or how close you are to this person, which in itself is linked to us caring more about ourselves than others. But if we were to imagine that we cared more for others than ourselves, then how would we sort out who we felt more empathy for (if we can't feel empathy for everyone at the same time)?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    "A world based on total empathy"... What is "total" empathy?

    And besides, if pigs could fly, it would be a much different world.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    And besides, if pigs could fly, it would be a much different world.Bitter Crank

    And I’d be a billionaire if I were Jeff Bezos and not someone who is sensitive and has schizoaffective disorder.
  • Ines
    6

    For me, "total" empathy means someone that cares for someone solely because they feel empathy for them, and gains nothing by helping or feeling empathy for them. Most things we do nowadays is for personal gain and because we are affected by the consequences of our actions. Most people wouldn't help someone if it would have a negative impact on our life. "Total" empathy means someone caring for another person without caring about how it affects them personally.
  • Echarmion
    854
    So according to you one can not care for everyone at the same time because it's too much to handle?Ines

    Not necessarily because it's too much to handle, but because this is how the human mind works. Caring for everyone is distinct from what we call empathy, it is a reflected, reasoned care, where empathy is emotional.

    That would support the idea that you automatically care more for some than others, but this doesn't have to be logical or based on how much a person deserves your empathy. Often it's linked to how important a certain person is to you personally or how close you are to this person, which in itself is linked to us caring more about ourselves than others.Ines

    In a sense, yes. But empathy is merely our care for ourselves mirrored onto another person. The area of the brain responsible is referred to as "mirror neurons". So without care for the self, there is no empathy.
  • Ines
    6

    Would that be because we in our brain think of ourselves as another person, or as if there's a difference between the brain and the soul? Like we can see ourselves as a person like anyone else but at the same time be ourselves?
  • alcontali
    695
    I've been thinking about what would happen if everyone were to care for others more than they cared for themselves. If everyone was the opposite of narcissistic and took care of others instead of caring about themselves. Would the world be a perfect place to live on then? Would one care as much for everyone or would one care more for some compared to others? And what sort of problems would arrise under these circumstanses?Ines

    That could amount to giving unilateral hamlet-style sharing rights to everybody else on your income and/or assets.

    It certainly works in relatively small communities, but it does not scale. No matter how large your income/assets, you will always end up in Gambler's Ruin.

    If you live in a metropolitan area with 10 million people, you cannot recognize 10 million unilateral sharing rights on your income/assets.

    There is that persistent myth that people became gradually more selfish.

    Well no, that is not what happened. Over the centuries, the population grew dramatically, even exponentially, making any system of unilateral sharing rights simply unsustainable. The problem can be alleviated through charity, though.
  • Ines
    6

    Well, thinking that everyone would share equally as much of their income and assets that system would be able to work long-term. I was thinking more about crimes and legal systems and how that would change if everyone would care for each other in the same way we care for ourselves. New problems would most probably arise but that would depend more on the level of empathy we have for one person compared to another than on the reason for the crime itself... If I were to rob a bank in order to help someone in need of money, I would face a moral dilemma trying to see who is more worthy of my help and who would benefit the most of my actions.
  • Judaka
    420

    The ideal world in my mind is one where everyone is encouraged to do what is in their own best interests but that their pool of options is one that will lead to the benefit of others. I think that we already try to some extent to model society that way. Can't please everyone all the time and people can be fairly shortsighted about what's in the best interests of everyone but that's unavoidable.

    Empathy is a joke, everyone talks but it's rarely a noteworthy counterweight to other human motivations. Even if it was, it's not well equipped to deal with complicated problems, it doesn't answer the question of how to maintain balance or what you should even do. I can empathise with a poor, single mother, I can say that's hard but what am I supposed to do about it?

    It has its role, let's not put it on a pedestal like it will resolve all of the world's problems.
  • Pantagruel
    186
    Empathy is a joke, everyone talks but it's rarely a noteworthy counterweight to other human motivations.Judaka

    Just because few people undertake to act empathically doesn't undermine its importance. It has been a conundrum since ancient times, if everyone desires 'the good' (which must be what is most beneficial) then why do so few people do it?

    I for one believe firmly in the value of empathy. In fact, I believe that acting to help others wherever it is within your power constitutes the golden rule.
  • Judaka
    420

    "The desire to do good" is similarly not a noteworthy counterweight to other human motivations. People are hypocrites, of course, you say "help people when it's within your power" but that's just nonsense. Your "power" is actually fairly massive, you could easily pick up extra jobs and cut down on your spending and use that money to help others and make a dramatic impact on people's lives.

    Why don't you make these kinds of efforts? Is it because you don't care about people and you're just pretending? No, that's not the reason. The reason is that you've got many things you'd like to do and limited resources and helping others isn't near the top. Now, maybe I've underestimated you, perhaps you actually are giving it your all to help others but this would make you a special case, that's all.

    So yeah, everyone thinks empathy is great because it's easy, I can sit in my room and imagine about things all day. Actually having the courage or commitment to act, not so easy. That's why in my view, you need to incentivise helpful behaviour. That's what capitalism is to some extent, you provide a service or good that is useful to others but you're also rewarded for it.
  • Pantagruel
    186
    Actually, my philosophy and practise is pretty straightforward. Individuals have different sets of abilities and capabilities based both on innate differences and on situational differences. So there will always be some set of actions that are 'easier' for one person than for another. So when you find yourself in a situation where (relatively speaking) it is easy for you to do something for someone else where it would be relatively much more difficult for that person to do it, then you should invest the time and effort. I think it makes for a pretty good standard of universalizability.

    And yes, I do make every effort to be aware when opportunities like these present themselves, and to act on them.
  • Judaka
    420

    Are you talking about helping the old lady across the street? Empathy has its place and sure, easy to do kindness is a fine thing but in a thread discussing empathy as the world's salvation? Moral imperatives are more powerful than empathy, responsibility is more powerful, empathy isn't even necessarily at play in most of the cases you think you're talking about.
  • Pantagruel
    186
    Well, offering assistance to someone in need is essentially demonstrating empathy, so, yes I'd have to say it is empathetic. And I think if everyone did just a little, it would amount to a lot! :)
  • Shamshir
    856
    The problem with empathy is that it does not multiply. Our sense of empathy can deal with maybe a handful of individuals at once. More than that just get thrown out. Worse, really big catastrophes are so unimaginable in the amount of suffering they produce that empathy simply shuts down.

    So empathy is ultimately not a good solution for making the world a better place.
    Echarmion
    What a fraudulent world that must be, where no sun shines and no ants tread~
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment