22 May 2017 18:49 IST

The case against empathy

Why this psychologist thinks you should be compassionate, not empathetic

Empathy is considered an essential trait to have and a lack of it is reason to judge a person. This article published in Vox describes how Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale University, uses clinical studies and simple logic to argue that empathy, however well-intentioned, is a poor guide for moral reasoning in his book Against Empathy.

"By empathy I mean feeling the feelings of other people. So if you’re in pain and I feel your pain — I am feeling empathy toward you. If you’re being anxious, I pick up your anxiety. If you’re sad and I pick up your sadness, I’m being empathetic. And that’s different from compassion. Compassion means I give your concern weight, I value it. I care about you, but I don’t necessarily pick up your feelings," says Bloom in an interview with Sean Illing.

To read more on how the professor defines empathy and sets it apart from compassion, click on the link.