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Phil75231
08-28-2012, 05:24 AM
Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen (related to Sasha) gives an insightful overview of environmental factors and genetic ones regarding how people develop empathy. Genes, hormones, enviornment, and neurological damage can play varying roles. However, damages affecting one factor or combination of factors lead to different outcomes.

There are 2 types of empathy: cognitive (knowing/reading other people's intentions) and affective (knowing what the appropriate behavior toward people in distress. Psychopaths have low affective empathy, but high cognitive*. Autistics are the reverse - high (or at least 'normal range') affective empathy though low cognitive empathy. While low affective empathy does not inevitably mean cruelty, it seems to be a precondition for it.



*That's why psychopaths are good at reading and manipulating others.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGxPDRp42qQ

apophis99942
08-28-2012, 05:42 AM
Yeah, I never did understand why Aspies get such a bad rap.

Spark
08-28-2012, 05:44 AM
The Social Darwinists who prefer a realist interpretation of power theory don't like this one bit. Many of the extreme ones believe that empathy was a bleeding heart fail-safe to ensure there would be less competition, but what they neglect to realize is that empathy is very much required for the survival of human beings and that there is not only strong psychological evidence for that theory, but also genetic evidence as well. 23andme traces an gene (OXTR) (http://spittoon.23andme.com/23andme-research/snpwatch/snpwatch-we-care-a-lot/) associated with heightened empathy in people with the homozygous trait and this seems to be passed down from parents to children over generations. This suggests that our population selected for empathy SNPs in the distant past and that they will continue to play a role in human relations on the macro scale. Otherwise, we would see this genetic indicator fade out of the population if it were truly unneeded.

Phil75231
08-29-2012, 08:48 PM
Social Darwinist true believers place faith in "Survival of the Fittest", often attributed to Darwin but actually originated from Herbert Spencer. Darwin himself recognized that humans are governed by moral rules that simply don't apply to the animal world (well, at least by 19th to mid 20th century reckoning of things). To make a long story short, at best Social Darwinists need to grow beyond a schoolboy's definition of strength and manliness, at worst they are either outright bullies or bully admirers, if not sympathizers.

God Child
08-29-2012, 11:54 PM
Well empathy and morals are two different things. A bully still has empathy, it's just their behavior that separates them from others.

Phil75231
08-30-2012, 01:14 AM
Well empathy and morals are two different things.

It's hard for me to deny that morality in great part is sourced in empathy. If nobody gave a damn about the pain of others, then it's hard to see what purpose moral rules (and even laws) would serve.

(This isn't the thread for morality per se, so I consider this just a tangent).


A bully still has empathy, it's just their behavior that separates them from others.

True, most bullies do have empathy - they're just very selective about it, whehter in who they choose to be empathetic towards or their general capactiy for it.

God Child
08-30-2012, 04:15 AM
It's hard for me to deny that morality in great part is sourced in empathy. If nobody gave a damn about the pain of others, then it's hard to see what purpose moral rules (and even laws) would serve.

(This isn't the thread for morality per se, so I consider this just a tangent).

Morals/ethics differ from person-to-person and even population-to-population. They're the product of cooperation. Cooperation is necessary for any social system to exist, mainly because if individuals don't cooperate it makes things more difficult for everybody. Nobody (and this is even true in the animal world) does anything for nothing. There has to be some sort of "gain" for that individual's action. It can be for food, resources, alliances, respect, territory, personal pleasure, reciprocity, etc. And in the rare cases when we do something for nothing, it's usually restricted to family and relatives; those we feel will contribute to our progeny. I think you're confusing empathy with reciprocity or altruism.