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RSA Animate – Zero Degrees of Empathy

September 4, 2012

I posted previously an RSA Animate clip by Jeremy Rifkin called the Empathic Civilisation in which Rifkin argued that there is a growing global empathic language.  This following clip comes again from RSA, is a little more substantial, but is also much more rewarding as the noted academic Simon Baron-Cohen discusses empathy and its relationship to evil. 

During the clip Baron-Cohen argues that empathy has two elements, first, a cognitive process in which we recognise or identify what a person may be thinking or feeling, and second, an appropriate emotional reaction to someone else’s thoughts and feelings.  Evil, says Baron-Cohen, can be best understood as the erosion of empathy, and he spends the remainder of the talk explaining how empathy is eroded in a number of ways, through genetics, as well as sociological and psychological factors.

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