Ericks Book Club – Month of August Edition: Against Empathy

Hi Friends! I’m so excited to come to y’all today with an awesome book recommendation. For those who don’t know me, my name is Erick Bateman (he/him). I am a Class of 2020 grad from The University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a contemporary dance concentration. The bulk of my education, along with my technical training, has included discourse around the human experience, meaning how we perceive and experience events in our lives. This combined with current events, and the endless barrage of information we are constantly intaking, my reading list as of late has included books that center around broad topics that can be taken further into discussion and dissection.

Erick’s Pick: Against Empathy by Paul Bloom

Hello again! I hope all is well with you and yours! I am back with another great book recommendation, and this one is definitely a food for thought. As you might have been able to guess, I’m intrigued by applicable theory, reason and discourse, and how small and large structures of thought demonstrate different effects in our daily lives. That being said, let’s dive into the next book!

The book I am recommending next is titled “Against Empathy” by Paul Bloom. Bloom, a Canadian-American psychologist, explores the idea that too much empathy might actually do more harm than good. At first glance, to most, this might seem like such a counterproductive idea. The word “empathy” itself has become such an important tool for all people, companies, organizations, and entities to create connections with people and ideas.

However, Bloom makes the case that when we allow ourselves to take on the emotional gravity of other experiences, we can lose the ability to rationalize short and long term effects of remedies, and we lose the nuance of what all of these different ideas associated with empathy mean, such as; compassion, kindness, understanding, and sympathy. The book goes on to discuss different ideas of the origins of morality, how we come to understand decisions as being rational, how empathy manifests itself in different scenarios, from interpersonal relationships to larger socio-political structures, and even how actions that seem harsh can be motivated from empathy, or carings for others’ experiences.

What Professor Bloom showcases in this book is that if we are to strive to be the best versions of ourselves, that care for our loved ones and issues that matter to us, and even the world at large, we must apply decisive rationale with emotional awareness in order to make decisions that are fair and just. This is a book that starts a lot of conversations and may even feel personal sometimes, which is inevitable being that we all are motivated by our own reasons to care about something. What I took away from this book is that I must be aware of the emotional toll being asked of me when making decisions so that my ability to critically think does not get lost.

My question for you, as a tagalong with this book is, what motivates you to care? I’m curious to know what you will get from this book as well! Happy reading, and as always, lots of love! – Erick

You can find Erick here to discuss this book further with him!

The Young Editorial’s Thoughts

Based on simply his review and not having read the book, I think this topic is so important and incredibly interesting. In this stage of your life, it can be very hard to make decisions that are emotionally driven as well as rational.

Critical thinking is a skill that I feel social media as a whole has weakened in us. It forces us to intake so much information and so many do it blindly that when it comes to world issues, opinions, and even personal morals. So many only make decisions on empathy and emotion rather than critical thinking skills. It can be corrected and that can lead to better discussion and less finger pointing and misinformation in this online oriented world.

I cannot wait to read this book and if you’re in your 20’s I recommend getting a copy too.

To answer Erick’s question “what motivates you to care?”

I would have to say two things: 1. Anything that effects me personally or 2. Anything that is inherently negative to human kind. I think this is how most people work, but the relationship between someone and an issue has been blurred through social media. By that I mean many people take things personally when it really is not about or for them and that can cause issues. Just food for thought.

Thank you again Erick, we value your opinions always.

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