- Capa dura: 304 páginas
- Editora: Ecco (6 de dezembro de 2016)
- Idioma: Inglês
- ISBN-10: 0062339338
- ISBN-13: 978-0062339331
- Dimensões do produto: 14 x 2,6 x 21 cm
- Peso de envio: 476 g
- Avaliação média: 1 avaliação de cliente
- Lista de mais vendidos da Amazon: Nº 99,258 em Livros (Conheça o Top 100 na categoria Livros)
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion (Inglês) Capa dura – 6 dez 2016
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A controversial call to arms by one of the world’s leading psychologists, Against Empathy reveals how the natural impulse to share the feelings of others can do more harm than good both on the world stage and in our personal lives.
We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it.
Nothing could be further from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In Against Empathy, Bloom reveals empathy to be one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgment and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. We are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on it but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion.
Basing his argument on groundbreaking scientific findings, Bloom makes the case that some of the worst decisions made by individuals and nations—whom to give money to, when to go to war, how to respond to climate change, and whom to imprison—are too often motivated by honest, yet misplaced, emotions. With precision and wit, he demonstrates how empathy distorts our judgment in every aspect of our lives, from philanthropy and charity to the justice system and from medical care and education to parenting and marriage. Without empathy, Bloom insists, our decisions would be clearer, fairer, and—yes—ultimately more moral.
Brilliantly argued, urgent, and humane, Against Empathy shows us that when it comes to both major policy decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives limiting our impulse toward empathy is often the most compassionate choice we can make.
Sobre o Autor
Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. An internationally recognized expert on the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, he has won numerous awards for his research, writing, and teaching. His previous books include Just Babies and How Pleasure Works, and he has written for Science, Nature, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut.
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First of all it’s important to note that Bloom is not a cold hearted anti-moralist monster. While he states clearly that he is against empathy, it’s important to note what he is for: “rational compassion.” It’s also important to understand his definition of empathy. He writes “the notion of empathy that I’m most interested in is the act of feeling what you believe other people feel–experiencing what they experience. This is how most psychologists and philosophers use the terms” (pp. 3-4).
I don’t want to write about his findings here but simply wish to note that he writes convincingly about the necessary narrow scope of empathy, it’s moral dilemmas, and biases. He also explores the frequent weaknesses of the test cases that apparently “prove” that empathy is our great moral compass. All of that to simply say, he makes a great case and writes a great book. I am going to write a few issues I take with the book, but mostly I thought it was great. My lopsided review is an attempt to leave the content for you and avoid spoilers.
Ultimately I’m persuaded but not fully convinced by Bloom’s argument. I think his categories are a tad too narrow and don’t allow for the overlap which is the integrated human person. I’m sure he would disagree, but perhaps empathy, rationality, and compassion overlap more than the author allows for. I noticed this early in the book when he wrote that “Many of our moral heroes, real and fictional, are not rational maximizers or ethical eggheads; they are people of heart. From Huckleberry Fin to Pip to Jack Bauer, from Jesus to Gandi to Martin Luther King Jr., they are individuals of great feeling” (p. 6) Really? Gandi, MLK, and Jesus were very rational in their ethics. King’s decision not to return violence for violence is about a lot of things, feeling is not one of them. This is a rationally planned decision to override what feeling would tell you in the moment. These men were all men of “heart,” but they were deeply rational. They were integrated. Jesus is perhaps the most rational ethical figure in history (both King and Gandi followed his ethic). Jesus’ ethic cannot be reduced to his golden rule as the author seemed to hint at. (Important to note that this ethic is shared by all major religions.) Neither can it be ignored. Integration seems key. At one point Bloom writes “if a child is starving, it doesn’t really matter whether the food is delivered by a smiling aid worker who hands it over and then gives the kid a hug, or dropped from the sky by a buzzing drone. The niceties of personal contact are far less important than actually saving lives” (p. 106). Well, yes; mainly true. But again, integration is key. Human touch cannot be measured the same way calories can be counted, and while the immediate need is most certainly food that needn’t diminish the long term – though often immeasurable – impact of human touch. Alas, I’m being a bit “nitpicky.” But one more thing.
Quoting James Rachels, “morality is, at the very least, the effort to guide one’s conduct by reason–that is, to do what there are the best reasons for doing–while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual affected by one’s decision” (p. 52) Here the question is which morality? What is the goal (telos) of morality? I certainly have a different telos than Bloom. This became really clear to me in the fifth chapter on “violence and cruelty.” Bloom writes, “unless we are transformed into angels, violence and the threat of violence are needed to rein in our worst instincts” (p. 179). It strikes me, therefore, that rational compassion is massively important, but the question remains: rational compassion towards what? Who’s version of morality? Who is right on their view of the role of violence, me or Bloom? Who decides. This is an important underlying moral question and I was unclear where he stood.
While I may disagree with some of Bloom’s assessments, I believe empathy has been significantly overplayed. Morality is important for every culture to think through and Bloom confronts what many have taken granted in ours. Despite my disagreement on some points, I am grateful for this work and hope it is widely read.
What I discovered, though, is that the views are totally reconcilable. Here, Paul Bloom does a fascinating (and frequently entertaining) job at exploring how empathy should be avoided in moral deliberation (e.g. which governmental programs deserve the most funding?). He also has many interesting diversions as he explores topics such as cruelty, romance, and other topics where empathy could appear.
That said, you as the reader can emerge having learned something that actually makes sense, and still recognize the positives of empathy. It would be the same idea as if someone wrote a book discussing the negatives of love, and titled it "Against Love". Just because there are positives associated with the love, doesn't mean that there aren't negatives too. Here's a book about the negatives. Same thing - just replace love for empathy.
One last note is how fascinatingly philosophical the book gets, especially considering how Bloom is a psychologist. His arguments are very utilitarian and consequentialist, and he spends a some time to defend how these are best fitted for logical, compassionate moral deliberation.
Importantly, Bloom doesn’t argue that there’s no positive role for empathy in our lives - it’s crucial in our personal relationships for example - but at the larger scale, empathy won’t help make the world a better place, because our emotional systems weren’t designed to help us minimize world suffering, but to motivate us to help our family and friends and to weight them over others. Thus, the subtitle of his book, “The Case for Rational Compassion.” Concern for others’ welfare (compassion) is not the same as feeling what others feel (empathy), and it is the former, Bloom argues, that we need to cultivate to guide our moral decisions in the larger world in which we live - a more distanced, principled stance that involves caring about others, but not favoring some individuals over others. The book has caused me to sit back and try to think much more logically about my own charitable giving, what principles I want to support and where it will do the most good, as opposed to spontaneously giving to random causes that pull my heartstrings. The goal of being a better person, it turns out, is a little like the goal of being a healthy person - you have to resist the easy appealing option junk-food (Cheetos from the vending machine; the adorable baby seal blinking its liquid brown eyes) and go for the more difficult, dispassionate evaluation of nutritional value. What feels good isn’t the same as what is good - for us, and for others.
Bloom's arguments and examples are fascinating, and in addition to being thought-provoking, Bloom is an excellent writer - it’s an engaging, and engrossing, and (somewhat unexpectedly, given its topic) a thoroughly fun and enjoyable read.