PJFT

Prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance – the classical cardinal virtues. They read well but their old fashioned names allow us to leave them in the back of our minds. So it might be useful to look at some of the virtues which we meet everyday. My first virtue to be examined is Empathy.

This habit is closely connected to loving our neighbour since it requires us to be responsive to him as he is in himself and not merely as we see him from the outside. It should not be confused with sympathy (often good in itself but not relevant here) which means sharing our neighbour’s feelings. Empathy means understanding what these feelings are so that we can react constructively to them.

A hospital nurse will no doubt feel sympathy for her patients from time to time. However she knows that she cannot afford to allow too much emotional involvement; this would not only be an unbearable strain for her but it could well interfere with her professional care. Yet if she is without empathy and so has no understanding of what her patients are feeling or experiencing then her ability to help them will be much reduced.

Empathy preserves us from thinking that what is good for us will necessarily be good for our neighbour. This would be to love him as if he were ourselves. If we love him as we love ourselves then we have to try to love him in his own terms – from inside, so to speak. Only in this way can we love him in the way we love ourselves.

Imagine a situation – quite familiar nowadays – when you have finally reached a customer service clerk after a tedious track through an automated telephone system. How easy it is to allow your aggravation to colour your attitude to what you might see as non-cooperation. But think for a moment how it must feel to be the clerk, who is bound by the company’s regulations and has spent the day, as he does every day, dealing with aggrieved customers.

Does the situation look a little different now.? Is it possible that a better understanding of what the other person is experiencing would motivate us to be more constructive, and might even get us the help we require? As it happens telephone staff rate very low on job satisfaction; you might not care to change places with them except in your imagination.

But more important, perhaps, are our relations: spouses, children, parents, siblings etc. Of course we love them all, but how about our empathy? Have we really thought about their feeling, or just assume them? I look back on a long and excellent marriage. And I can see many issues I could have handled better if I had used empathy more fully. How about you?

Apologies for the late appearance of this blog. Entirely my fault, I fear.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Quentin queries, Spirituality, virtue ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to PJFT

  1. David Smith says:

    Are “empathize” and “identify with” almost exactly the same thing? Quentin? I’ll assume so, until convinced otherwise.

    Some of us seem constitutionally disinclined to identify with, or to empathize with, the creatures with whom we’re interacting, be they humans or non-human animals, and I don’t know that that’s a serious failing. It may be simply, or largely, genetic. For others, empathy could be dangerous. For example, a farmer needs in the course of his daily life to be prepared to kill animals. Were he to indulge himself in empathy with them, he’d soon become a nervous wreck. For a police officer or a soldier, a little too much empathy could prove suicidal. A psychotherapist, I’d think, could easily become professionally crippled by empathy.

    Quentin writes, above:

    “A hospital nurse will no doubt feel sympathy for her patients from time to time. However she knows that she cannot afford to allow too much emotional involvement; this would not only be an unbearable strain for her but it could well interfere with her professional care.”

    That thick skin is necessary to protect both nurse and patient from the dangers that any medical professional’s sinking into empathy or leaning too far over into compassion would surely entail, especially in these days when medical care has become extremely technologized and complex, requiring that the carer be fully cognitively engaged at all times.

    But Quentin goes on to say:

    “Yet if she is without empathy and so has no understanding of what her patients are feeling or experiencing then her ability to help them will be much reduced.”

    I don’t know that I agree. For one thing, I’m skeptical that a fair measure of understanding of the distress her patient is suffering requires that the nurse empathize with the patient. A good understanding of human psychology might suffice.

    Not everyone, I think, is or needs to be much given over to empathy. Compassion, probably, and a recognition of fellow humanity, surely, but empathy? Empathy, I think, is close kin to sentimentality. They’re not the same, but the semantic wall between them is thin. Both involve the emotions almost to the exclusion of rational judgement. Sentimentality leaves judgement behind; empathy, ideally, stops just short of that.

    Lastly, a half-baked objection to empathizing. There’s something – though maybe only a little – to be said for the thought that empathy is both presumptuous and undesirably intrusive. It’s presumptuous because no one, I think, can understand the feelings of another in more than a rough and analogous fashion. Every human being is unique. To a scientist or someone with an unlimited faith in the ultimate omniscience of science, I suppose that’s not true, but the rest of us, I think, can have no good reason to doubt it. And empathy is undesirably intrusive in that it probes another’s mind without that other’s permission. True, the probing is likely only imaginary, the prober’s having probably no ability to probe effectively, but it is, as a lawyer might say, intending to probe without permission.

    Interesting subject, Quentin. Thanks.

    • Alasdair says:

      David – apologies for reordering your wording:
      “I don’t know that disinclination to identify with, or to empathize with, the creatures with whom we’re interacting, be they humans or non-human animals, is a serious failing. It may be simply, or largely, genetic”
      Let us not forget a story that was told a while back regarding empathy with those not genetically related to us. See Luke 10:25-37. I assume that we still attach some importance to the words of the story teller.

      • David Smith says:

        Thanks, Alastair, for Luke10:25-37.

        Here’s one version:

        https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37&version=NIV

        That’s compassion, no? Nothing there about how the Samaritan felt, just what he did.

        Empathy, it seems to me, is a luxury emotion, one that someone safe at home, sitting by the fireside with a glass of porter in his hand and a sleeping dog at his feet, is free to indulge with little fear of a robber’s crashing through the window and attacking him. His guard is safely down. By the open roadside with an injured man, the Samaritan, if he’s sensibly cautious, will tend compassionately to the immediate physical needs of a fellow creature without allowing his mind to drift off into fantasies of how the fellow might be feeling about life.

        I suspect that empathy is a virtue for these overly emotional times in the West – if, indeed, it’s a virtue at all, and not primarily an emotional indulgence.

        I don’t want to knock emotional indulgences. Really. It’s just that these days we seem to be showered with them super-abundantly from all sides. That’s taking an otherwise good thing to wretched excess.

      • Alasdair says:

        David, ref your response February 11, 2019 at 8:43 pm. You say “That’s compassion, no? Nothing there about how the Samaritan felt, just what he did”.
        Your choice of the New International Version (NIV) is probably not the best in this case.
        To quote from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) which is more commonly used by Catholics “33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity” ie clearly describing how he felt.

  2. Quentin says:

    “Are “empathize” and “identify with” almost exactly the same thing?” No. they are quite different: empathising requires being aware of the feelings of the other, and/or where they are coming from. identifying means in some way taking on those feelings.

  3. galerimo says:

    Is it a coincidence that you write on the topic of empathy in the same week as Abu Dhabi?

    A week when we saw the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, looking at the Catholic Church with genuine empathy and the Catholic Church doing the same with Muslims.

    This was true empathy in the sense in which you describe it – a “habit closely connected to loving our neighbour since it requires us to be responsive to him as he is in himself and not merely as we see him from the outside”.

    Both Muslims and Catholics, each very different from the other, nevertheless, in mutual empathy, took a long hard look at the world in which both share, and tried to make it better for doing so.

    It was a positive and a critical look.

    Empathy, in a real sense, can be seen as a distillation of the cardinal virtues being a good mix of them all. However, like any virtue it only comes to life when it informs real human behaviour.

    And that is what happened in the UAE. In empathy with each other both Muslims and Catholics declared their convictions about human freedom, justice, dialogue, the protection of places of worship, terrorism, the rights of women, the rights of children, the elderly, the weak, the disabled and all who are oppressed including the planet.

    Empathy is what makes real human fraternity.

    Maybe this declaration is on a scale grander than the points you make around nursing care, call centres and family but, at its heart, it is the same thing.

  4. John Nolan says:

    Empathy and sympathy are actually quite close in definition, although sympathy has more ramifications. However, it can be argued that without empathy there can be no sympathy.

    I can understand the processes by which Moslems come to their understanding of God; Christian scholars like Peter the Venerable in the 12th century addressed their not inconsiderable intellect to this very topic. But they did not empathize to the extent that they agreed with the Moslem position.

    ‘Empathy is what makes real human fraternity,’ Sorry, galerimo, that is a meaningless platitude which assumes that there is a ‘real human fraternity’, in itself a meaningless and nonexistent concept.

    • David Smith says:

      // ‘Empathy is what makes real human fraternity,’ Sorry, galerimo, that is a meaningless platitude which assumes that there is a ‘real human fraternity’, in itself a meaningless and nonexistent concept. //

      One could say that there is, de facto, a human fraternity, simply because all humans are related physically. Certainly, though, that’s not saying much. The idea of human fraternity in a wider sense is something that needs lots of work and a common culture to develop. Today, at least, from a bird’s eye cultural point of view, Moslems and Christians are very far apart, and no amount of diplomatic gesturing can do much more than make the development of an eventual sense of fraternity a little less unlikely.

      Galerimo’s celebrating what he sees as mutual empathy between the pope and the imam does seem to me to be reading a lot of emotional connection and commitment into a smattering of diplomatic gesturing.

  5. Alasdair says:

    David, further to your response February 11, 2019 at 8:43 pm. “Empathy, it seems to me, is a luxury emotion, one that someone safe at home, sitting by the fireside with a glass of porter in his hand and a sleeping dog at his feet, is free to indulge”
    I have friends who are unpaid volunteers for the RNLI and mountain rescue teams. They frequently forego their cosy firesides to head out into the storm, often at night in winter. These individuals, I assure you are very empathic and sypathetic. They are not fearless and give very generously of themselves at an emotional level.

  6. David Smith says:

    Sorry, I’ve gone off on a definition tangent. What I mean by “empathy” seems to be different from what others here mean. Language is like that.

    All that matters here, at least to start with, I think, is what Quentin means by it. He says that it’s not sympathy, not pity, and not identifying with someone, and I take it that he believes that it differs importantly from compassion. My Chambers gives this:

    //
    The power of entering into another’s personality and imaginatively experiencing his or her experiences

    The power of entering into the feeling or spirit of something (esp a work of art) and so appreciating it fully
    //

    Only the first of those applies here, and it’s close to what I mean by the word – imaginatively experiencing the experiences of another.

    I’d call what Alisdair and John describe compassion, not at empathy. Nothing they describe requires that the good people they’re talking about believe that they are entering into someone else’s personality and experiencing what he is experiencing. Empathy seems to me very like what a certain type of writer of fiction does with one or more of his characters:

    “What garbage”, he thought. “Possibly”, he said.

    It works for the fiction writer because the character is his creation. It’s very unlikely to work for anyone else, because, so far as we know, no one can actually enter into the personality of another.

    I think what Quentin’s talking about is compassion, not empathy.

    But as others disagree, I’ll let this go and try to think around it. :o)

  7. Alasdair says:

    Having thought around it, I am unable to disentangle empathy, compassion, pity etc from each other. They all inhabit the same area of grey matter even though a distinct definition has been proposed for each.
    Episode 2 of the fascinating BBC2 series “Inside Europe – 10 Years of Turmoil” highlighted the effect of these emotions at the highest levels within government.
    In September 2015 the European governments were at loggerheads over what their response should be to the immigrant crisis in spite of the death toll already being in the hundreds if not thousands. Up until then it was just statistics. Everything changed when the picture appeared of 3 year old Alan Kurdi lying face down, drowned on a Greek beach. The surge of “e,c,p,etc” which occurred forced the prime ministers of the countries where the refugees were headed to agree quotas. This was high risk on their part as it violated the constitution of the EU and could have resulted in a breakup of their cherished union.
    The picture also appeared on the charities noticeboard at my workplace with a tagline quoting Pope Francis “We are called to protect the poor, not to protect ourselves from them”. Apparently it caused foods of tears among some staff, and the management insisted that it be removed immediately.

    • David Smith says:

      Alasdair writes:

      // Having thought around it, I am unable to disentangle empathy, compassion, pity etc from each other. //

      Yes. Thank you.

      What happened at your work sounds like so much that’s been in the news in the past Several years. People seem to be unwilling to rein in their emotions. It seems to me strange and unhealthy. It seems of a piece with these hyperindividualistic times, and not at all a good thing.

      Man is a creature of both brain and heart. He needs to learn to manage both.

  8. ignatius says:

    Interesting discussion this. For myself I’m quite clear about the difference between sympathy and
    empathy. I have empathy with most of the men I spend times with in prison.This means I can have some idea of how it must be to ruin ones life, how to completely fail at supporting ones family by letting them down so badly. Certainly this empathy is close to compassion or pity but it is far away from ‘sympathy’ which I do not very often feel towards those in my charge, in other words I do not ‘feel sorry for them’
    Also the sense of empathy need not be strongly ’emotional’ it can just be a spur towards action, an awareness that some response is required.

  9. David Smith says:

    Off this topic, momentarily, and on to another.

    Quentin writes, in the current issue of The Catholic Herald:

    // Another common source of potential error is confirmation bias. When we have taken a definite view on some issue or another we are liable to maximise the evidence which supports our belief and to minimise the evidence against it. A classic example is climate change. That there were opposing sides to the debate was easy to understand initially but, given the mounting evidence, it is no longer so. Yet there are still those who believe that the claim of likely climate change is some sort of international conspiracy. Their patron saint appears to be President Trump. //

    Ahem. Quentin, I think you’ve unintentionally given here a demonstration of confirmation bias of your own. In pushing to advance your cause, you’ve unfairly caricatured everyone who’s not in thrall to your beliefs. There may be a few people who deny that global weather patterns are shifting, but they’re not typical of the large number of people who simply don’t buy the whole global-warming-climate-change package, with all its political and ideological baggage. Straw man alert :o)

  10. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Empathy preserves us from thinking that what is good for us will necessarily be good for our neighbour. This would be to love him as if he were ourselves. If we love him as we love ourselves then we have to try to love him in his own terms – from inside, so to speak. Only in this way can we love him in the way we love ourselves. //

    Reason alone can keep us from thinking that what we think is best for us is best for our neighbour. For that matter, so can common sense. And so, to an extent, can simply imagining ourself in the place of anyone like him in his situation. In doing this latter, though, it behooves us not to fall into the trap of thinking that human beings are interchangeable. Our neighbour is unique. There’s not another exactly like him on the face of the earth.

    • ignatius says:

      Yes but a sense of empathy balances our uniqueness against our shared human condition..a condition that makes possible art, literature and philosophy and which allows the concept of ‘the reasonable man’

  11. Alasdair says:

    Prof Jordan Peterson is a highly controversial character who dares to state that there are differences between men and women other than the “plumbing”. You will all be aware that “gender differences are a mere cultural construct which must be demolished without delay” (quote/unquote). In typically combative fashion Peterson states that women are quite naturally more effective than men in certain professions due to their greater ability to show “agreeableness”. Thus women predominate in nursing and front-of-house roles and are not drawn to Engineering where interpersonal skills are less key. I guess that Peterson’s “agreeableness” is an outward manifestation of Empathy. Therefore (?) women have a greater capacity for empathy.

    • David Smith says:

      Yes, during the past half century, the equalizers have been having a field day throughout the Western world. Pound down the successful and lift up the failures until all you have is one perpetually calm sea of normalcy, from shore to shore. No waves, no weather. Paradise. The Chinese seem to be going for this on a country-wide scale. Everyone must think and behave correctly, according to the master plan, and not sin by wanting more. In the West, the same program is on the drawing boards of the equalizers. The sad reality, for them, is that they’re obliged to work their magic through the thorns and tangled underbrush of democracy. The bright reality, for them, is that they have the propaganda media engaged on their side. What the Chinese may do through brute force, their Western counterparts may accomplish through slow psychological coercion. It would be interesting to see how all this plays out from a vantage point somewhere far away. Watching it from within will be painful for those who, like Jordan Peterson, are strongly disinclined to genuflect to the master plan.

  12. galerimo says:

    When I see refugees on the TV and feel sorry for them and send them a box of goodies knowing it will help them – that’s sympathy.

    When I see refugees on the TV and feel sorry for them and make contact to enquire what I can do to help them – that’s empathy.

    Sympathy is about addressing my need to help the other as I see fit. It is good to show sympathy,
    Empathy is is about addressing the concerns of the other primarily according to their need. And it usually takes me out of my comfort zone

    Two men face a world together and see how poor it is for rejecting God and the maltreatment of fellow human beings.

    They seek to address that need by recognising how they too appear to reject each other, Christians and Muslims.

    These two recognise a real need for reconciliation with each other and do something about it.

    This is in itself a way of addressing the fractures of the world.

    They take a small but significant step to begin with.

    They come from behind their barriers and meet together with respect and honesty. They agree to act in unity with each other.

    They recognise how their unity (fraternity) as a single voice on shared values shows a way forward for a humanity that is similarly divided and alienated.

    It is a good example of empathy as a cardinal virtue involving prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. It is not Charity but “closely connected with it” – very closely.

    Empathy is the key to unlocking bigotry, racism, sexism, ageism, etc, etc. It is not the ultimate act of self sacrificing love which ultimately is a resolution to these real problems of real people – nevertheless it is the radical and essential and primary contributor.

    You make a very keen observation on empathy using the traditional pattern of a cardinal virtue.

    It is good to remember how it is always about people and the help, as living human individuals that we need – and not just theory.

  13. Nektarios says:

    Empathy is to put oneself in the shoes of another. Empathy for people we do not know is not empathy as such, but fear. There is little empathy here for the disadvantaged in this country as the gulf between rich and poor continues to increase. Food banks in a land fifth richest economy in the world, poor housing, poor health mental and physical. It seems there is no room for empathy in Politics, British or otherwise with people we know or are acquainted with. There is a dearth it seems to me of the emotion of empathy practically everywhere in the world at this time.

    We think we are being empathetic towards others ruled by dictatorships and cruel regimes that have their kin suffering, starving and dying, no empathy on their parts by such dictators.

    Empathy can only be truly at work with people we know or are acquainted with. Good people with caring personalities are preyed upon by Charities for money which little of is given to those who donated it. It is abuse quite frankly.

    We have seen the abuse of empathy by others for a very long time, in Africa for example and other countries and nations too, preying on the West. Now, we see orchestrated mass immigration wanting to come to the West with all the issues that that raises.

    What about empathy for those we really know in our own local church? Do those who lead in the mainstream denominations of the Church here and worldwide care a damn? No empathy, soft soap them, but maintain the class-ridden rotten systems we think is Christianity. They seem impervious and lacking not only in empathy but a real understanding of much at all.

    Most of us have a capacity for empathy.

    I wonder if you have noticed empathy rightly or wrongly, it only seems to work towards those deemed lesser than ourselves, it seldom if ever works around the other way, towards the rich the big business person etc.. It is odd that isn’t it?

  14. Iona says:

    Nektarios:
    We have seen the abuse of empathy by others for a very long time, in Africa for example and other countries and nations too, preying on the West.
    What are you referring to?

    • Nektarios says:

      Iona

      I am referring to many examples of the abuse of empathy, in Africa, it was in the Victorian period one saw much of this abuse of empathy. African leaders were really dictators and saw the population as their personal slaves. Missionary societies mostly all started orphanages to get money to support their goals. But it was our Government that was behind all this because they wanted their land and resources. This battle is still going on unresolved. The same empathy card was played by missionary societies in many countries with the same pattern.

      It would not be the wealthy that contributed most to their concealed plans but played the empathy card to finance the softening up process. Little has changed.

      As I posted earlier, many of these countries because their leaders were corrupt, warlike and now they want to escape to the West by the millions with all that implications of that which we have seen.
      Yes, Iona, it is very clear wittingly or unwittingly the West was guilty of abuse of empathy on our own people by Government, by religious and missionary societies. The empire building that was going on at that time tried to give a face of being empathetic to those countries, the reality proved to be anything but empathetic.

      Is it any wonder they come here now, and to those other countries in the West?

  15. David Smith says:

    Nektarios writes:

    // Empathy can only be truly at work with people we know or are acquainted with. //

    I think I understand. Please correct me if in re-wording it I’m missing the point.

    I think you’re saying, more or less, that long-distance empathy is impossible because we don’t have enough information to go on. There is, at best, a paucity of body language, there’s no immediate rich context, no smell (as the Pope might say), no personal back and forth, no touching. Empathy – or imaginative compassion, or whatever we might call it – can’t be done with any certainty at all in the absence of the person we’re trying to connect with emotionally and without knowing, from direct experience, a fair amount of his situation and history. Too much is missing.

    It seems to me that the term “empathy”, in its current pop sense, is just one of those fuzzy pop-psychological, quasi-scientific notions that float heavily and cloyingly in the air of our sentimentally self-indulgent, touchy-feely times. But I have no reluctance at all to consider the value of a rationally restrained imaginative approach to considering our friends and neighbors. In fact, I suspect that’s always in order. Almost all of us are profoundly social creatures, in need of the company of others, and social intercourse is, when it’s healthy, a two-way street. We begin by wanting companionship for our own pleasure and comfort, and that grows into wanting to understand our companion more than just superficially. We look into his eyes, listen to his voice, to his words, sense his body language, learn something of what moves him, rationally and emotionally. From being two lonely individuals in need of company, we create a third, sharing a sentient space.

  16. Nektarios says:

    David Smith

    Well said, and you reflect much of what I said.

    As I said, empathy is to put ourselves in another’s shoes, not figuratively, but with deep emotion and understanding. One cannot truly be empathetic with those one doesn’t know.

    Please read my reply to Iona, it goes some way to explaining the abuse of empathy and so losing its meaning which has been high-jacked! But, the game such play today is the same as it was in the Victorian age.
    Are not the last seven of the Commandments simply a true empathy in practice?

    • David Smith says:

      Nektarios writes:

      // Are not the last seven of the Commandments simply a true empathy in practice? //

      Hmm. Interesting:

      • Honor thy father and mother.

      • Thou shalt not kill.

      • Thou shalt not commit adultery.

      • Thou shalt not steal.

      • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

      • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

      • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

      In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

      • Alasdair says:

        Or as Jesus distilled it down to: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” — Matthew 22:35-40
        The love your neighbour part being, as you say “simply a true empathy in practice”.

    • galerimo says:

      You make some good points about the exploitation of peoples in the name of or in alignment with Christianity. About government helping on the world stage while turning a blind eye to those on their own door step.

      We do feed our sisters and brothers stones instead of bread, all the time.

      I agree that the focus must be on the individual whose lived experience is what constitutes their need. But don’t you think there is also a Universal dimension to the human heart. As they say, Charity does begin at home but it does not end there..

      I pray for all my sisters and brothers throughout the world because I share a common humanity with them and like every one of them,am also created in the image of God, enlivened by Her Spirit and redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

      One other issue that I am unsure about. What if my brother does not know or is even able to state their need? Is it wrong of me then to try and fix the systemic corrupt political or economic structures that I perceive to be the cause of my brothers’ pain by taking part in social and government funded action ? Sympathy or empathy or is this even a real question?

  17. Nektarios says:

    galerimo

    Is there such a thing as a Universal dimension to the human heart? If we mean we recognise fellow human beings, yes, universal in that sense. But in practice, it does not work like that.
    There is action when one has empathy for another. it comes out of knowing them, listening to them and as one listens the course of action can become clear, though it is not possible every time.

    Your first feeling of empathy is towards family, this is normal, however, it seems to be a grace that is in short supply when one considers the number of divorces, violence, and grievous bodily harm even within Christian families. Thankfully, it is minute compared to those who are not Christian.
    There is nothing wrong in praying for your Christian brethren around the world, and especially in your local Church, that means knowing them and their needs, also they would know yours.
    Perhaps this is empathy when we are all on the same level?

    It may be a slightly confused question. If I may put it this way, empathy rightly directed in the situation you ask has to come out of knowing the person and the situation. Certainly, one can pray for this brother in pain, but realise, it might not be you that has to act in this or that situation. If prayer is all ones empathy for this other person can do, then it will be heard of the Lord, and He has servants everywhere.

  18. Alasdair says:

    During one of his many televised interviews, Jordan Peterson was asked about Empathy. His typically angonisingly honest response was:
    Empathy is not an untrammelled moral virtue, it has to be tempered by other virtues. Over-empathising can be harmful, as in the example of overprotective parents (applause from audience). Another example is empathising with refugees to the extent that “all borders must be removed immediately” or some other action which would have enormous ramifications to other people.
    Claiming to be more empathic, and therefore claiming to be a better person than somebody else, is pathological.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Alasdair

    Jordon Peterson, among his varied talents a writer, a lecturer, a communicator, he is first and foremost a Clinical Psychologist and a Professor in that field. He has spent years listening to people and their problems. Being very good at what he does, he is a professional. Professionalism brings with it a particular way of seeing things and a specific language to explain ideas. Like a nurse or a doctor in a hospital, the issue presented is seen not in an empathetic manner but in a clinical manner. Is that empathy?

    I don’t see empathy as a virtue but as common grace. The reason for that is every sane and rational person has it but not everyone possesses virtue.

    You write:-Another example is empathising with refugees to the extent that “all borders must be removed immediately” or some other action which would have enormous ramifications to other people.

    This is interesting, in the USA for example, they are facing orchestrated mass immigration. The misguided empathy is not empathy, but a hyped up slogan by certain factions in America. The slogan goes,
    No border, no wall, no USA at all.
    Certain politcal leaders in the USA calling for this all have huge mansions with huge protective walls around their property.

    We have the same in the EU which will soon see its demise. This was also Nazi propaganda in the late 1930s. and the now unelected UN. It is now the communistic slogan for the Globalists.
    There is no empathy here, only enslavement of peoples around the world. And yes, it is pathological and very dangerous.

    • Alasdair says:

      There is a world of difference between the UK and EU on one hand and the USA on the other. In the area of the USA where my daughter lives, people are quite genuinely extremely friendly and polite to me and my wife because we look unthreatening. Everything is extremely orderly, efficient and beautiful in a manicured sort of way. But this situation is balanced on a knife-edge and is maintained by a combination of the protective walls you describe, and the threat of extreme violence by the authorities. We were reminded of this 2 days ago when two 20 year-olds were shot dead attempting to rob a pharmacy. The local paper carried a picture of the police posing with their guns. I presume this was intended as a comforting image. The incident didn’t even reach the national news.
      This is not the case in the UK/EU. Here things are rather more chaotic and less-efficient. People are frequently unfriendly and even rude but there is no constant expectation of an imminent lockdown and shootout. By and large you can ramble anywhere through the countryside without a patrol car appearing to render “assistance”.
      In that same part of the USA there are significant numbers of people who are constantly on their guard for the appearance of the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians / Revelations) and his Globalist agenda. Some suspect the EU of being a fulfilled end-times prophesy. (Catholic readers will probably not “get” this reference).

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