09 December 2021

How to develop empathy in society


How to develop empathy in society


Topic by Ines

Short essay by Lawrence


There is an interesting article on our subject at:


Empathy at Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy)


This article covers many of the obvious issues we might want to discuss. Hence I will be brief with my comments.


The key function of empathy is our ability to relate to the feelings of others. This mindset ought to lead to better relationships and our behaviour towards others. But what are the philosophical issues?


Does empathy belong to a set of terms such as altruism, cooperation, charity, compassion, sympathy and pity? Are these terms or concepts different from each other or simply degrees of the same phenomenon?


But before we can develop empathy in society empathy must confer some benefit for society and what is more, society recognizes such benefit. Of course, a benefit is relative, for example sacrificing an ox for the gods to make it rain won’t make it rain. In such societies an ox is a capital asset for that society. Hence a dead ox won’t make it rain but the collective anticipation unites the group at a time of need.


How, therefore, do we establish what is beneficial for someone and are we obliged to offer what is the best benefit of our empathy or any benefit will do? But with empathy and altruism one expects an action that directly affects the person in need in a positive way. So if these terms of kindness must have a meaning they must demonstrate a viable action to relieve the suffering of the person and not just nice words of comfort.



So how can we develop altruistic behaviour in society? The first necessary condition must surely be that members of society are in a position to help others. People in need themselves can hardly be in a position to help others in a similar situation.


Best Lawrence


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