Zero Degrees of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen

Some interesting insights on the nature of evil but also a number of simplifying assumptions.

Lack of empathy is equated to what philosophers and sociologists call evil.  Individualism is also a milder substitute concept for lack of empathy.

Assumption is that empathy is good and its lack is bad.  However no account is given of the possibility that ‘too much’ empathy is likely to be debilitating for individuals concerned.

Similarly there is no reflection on empathy that goes beyond interpersonal relations to empathy towards groups or collectives.

Nevertheless, this is a most interesting thesis that is convincingly presented.  A great overview of developmental psychology, the nature of the psychotic mind and benefits and costs of deviation from normal (i.e. average) behaviour further enhance this text.

Recommend.

http://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/pages/staffweb/baron/

an interesting critique on the blog:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/why-a-lack-of-empathy-is-the-root-of-all-evil-2262371.html

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