babble-intro-img
babble is rabble.ca's discussion board but it's much more than that: it's an online community for folks who just won't shut up. It's a place to tell each other — and the world — what's up with our work and campaigns.

Can we love and care for all humans equally...or are we bound to show tribal favoritism?

Sven
Offline
Joined: Jul 22 2005

See below...


Comments

Sven
Offline
Joined: Jul 22 2005

Stephen Asma, in a piece in yesterday's NYT (The Myth of Universal Love), indicates that there may be biological limits to empathy for others.  In a Jeremy Rifkin-type of ethical utopia, if any human being has less than X amount of income, food, clothing, shelter, etc., then all humans should reduce what they have down to X in order for those below X to be brought up to X.  But, that's not how humans behave and Asma argues that there are biological reasons for this.  The more closely another individual is associated with you (spouse or child versus an extended family member or a friend or an acquaintance or, at the extreme, a perfect stranger), the more empathy and care you will give that individual.  A person is not capable of having equal care for all human beings (no favoritism).

Quote:

A recent Niagara of longitudinal happiness studies all confirm that the most important element in a good life (eudaimonia) is close family and friendship ties — ties that bind. These are not digital Facebook friends nor are they needy faraway strangers, but robust proximate relationships that you can count on one or two hands — and these bonds are created and sustained by the very finite resource of emotional care that I’ve outlined. As Graham Greene reminds us, “one can’t love humanity, one can only love people.

In any event, I thought the piece was thought-provoking.


Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

They needed a study for this? It seems pretty obvious that you'll love or care about some people more than you will others. I care about my family more than I care about your family. I wish your family all the best, obviously, but I feel no personal connection to them in the same way I do my own. I care about my friends and neighbours more than I care about random strangers. Because I actually have personal relationships with them.


Sven
Offline
Joined: Jul 22 2005
Someone like Jeremy Rifkin would argue that not only can we embrace all humans equally but that we should. The NYT piece argues that not only do we not do so but that we can't because there are biological limits to empathy.

6079_Smith_W
Offline
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Sven wrote:
Someone like Jeremy Rifkin would argue that not only can we embrace all humans equally but that we should. The NYT piece argues that not only do we not do so but that we can't because there are biological limits to empathy.

I don't believe that, but I do believe it is the kind of stuff people sit on mountains for 10 years before they figureout. It may seem like a limit to those who want it right now.

 


Maysie
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2005

Rats do it.

A new model of empathy: The rat

Empathetic Rats Help Each Other Out

Quote:
 The act of helping others out of empathy has long been associated strictly with humans and other primates, but new research shows that rats exhibit this prosocial behavior as well.

.....

The researchers began their study by housing rats in pairs for two weeks, allowing the rodents to create a bond with one another. In each test session, they placed a rat pair into a walled arena; one rat was allowed to roam free while the other was locked in a closed, transparent tube that could only be opened from the outside.

The free rat was initially wary of the container in the middle of the arena, but once it got over the fear it picked up from its cage-mate, it slowly began to test out the cage. After an average seven days of daily experiments, the free rat learned it could release its friend by nudging the container door open. Over time, the rat began releasing its cage-mate almost immediately after being placed into the arena.

"When the free rat opens the door, he knows exactly what he's doing — he knows that the trapped rat is going to get free," Mason said. "It's deliberate, purposeful, helping behavior."

......

The researchers then conducted other tests to make sure empathy was the driving force in the rats' behavior. In one experiment, they rigged the container so that opening the door would release the captive rat into a separate arena. The free rat repeatedly set its cage-mate free, even though there was no reward of social interaction afterwards

.....

"It is unclear whether the rats sympathize with the distress of their cage-mates, or simply feel better as they alleviate the perceived distress of others," Jaak Panksepp, a psychologist and neuroscientist at Washington State University, wrote in an article accompanying the study.

Mason says they don’t yet know if the free rats are acting to relieve their own distress, the distress of their cage-mates, or a combination of both, but this is definitely a topic for further research.


Sven
Offline
Joined: Jul 22 2005
Actually, rats can't. Rats aren't even aware of the fact that there are rats all over the world. Therefore, rats can't show equal empathy for all rats in the world.

Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

Sven wrote:
Someone like Jeremy Rifkin would argue that not only can we embrace all humans equally but that we should. The NYT piece argues that not only do we not do so but that we can't because there are biological limits to empathy.

After reading that, I certainly have empathy for Jeremy Rifkin's wife and kids, if he has them.


lagatta
Online
Joined: Apr 17 2002

I'm not sure I like the term "biological". There are definitely people for whom I feel more empathy, but at the moment "chosen family" is much closer than any biological relative (note that both my parents are dead, and the only brother I have was violent and horrible to me, and I hadn't seen him in decades until my Mum's funeral, and hope I never will again. I do have cousins etc I am fond of, but they aren't my closest friends. 

And wouldn't "biological" exclude one's spouse? Unless you mean the biological tie of a (heterosexual and of childbearing age) couple who produce a child? 

Internationalism is hard work. Taking part in seminars, social fora, common work with comrades from different countries and cultures does mean some friction - but it is extraordinary when this friction can be overcome, and a source of great cultural wealth, and hope. 


Michelle
Offline
Joined: May 10 2001

Hey, this just PROVES that racism and xenophobia is natural!  Oh well, I guess we just can't help only liking people like ourselves.  What a fool's errand anti-racism is!  Activists - such idealistic, silly bunnies.

(I assume that's the underlying point that's being made in such a socratic way, right?  "Hey, activist types, I just found this really interesting article that proves that everything you are trying to achieve is useless because we're hardwired to do the opposite.  Isn't that thought-provoking?")

"Thought-provoking"?  Well, half-correct, I guess.


Michelle
Offline
Joined: May 10 2001

The funny thing is that I don't think there are any progressives who honestly believe that everyone should love everyone equally, that you should love a stranger on the street as much as you love your mother or your spouse, etc.  There's a difference between treating people equally in the same circumstances, and expending the same emotional energy on every single person on the planet equally.

So I have no idea what this is supposed to prove.  It's a revelation that I love and care for radiorahim much more than I love and care for Sven?  Truly ground-breaking, indeed.


Fidel
Offline
Joined: Apr 29 2004

Sven wrote:
Someone like Jeremy Rifkin would argue that not only can we embrace all humans equally but that we should. The NYT piece argues that not only do we not do so but that we can't because there are biological limits to empathy.

I think that for the longest time geography prevented people from having empathy for strangers in far away places. Telecommunications and the internet is making it a smaller world. I think that today more people are becoming aware of the plight of millions of strangers they've never met and knew nothing about before. It was once easy for a doctor and madman to wage a secret bombing campaign against Cambodia and Vietnam. The hawks lost that part of the cold war propaganda campaign because of a few independent news journalists and truth-tellers who dared to venture into those countries. Today everyone is a news journalist with their mobile phones and video cameras. World opinion would surely turn against the doctor and the madman today and somewhere near the rate of the speed of business. Today's colonizers are reduced to waging secret drone attacks in countries where communications infrastructure is lacking and won't exist for some time if brutal colonizers have any say in the matter.


onlinediscountanvils
Offline
Joined: Jun 7 2012

Michelle wrote:
The funny thing is that I don't think there are any progressives who honestly believe that everyone should love everyone equally, that you should love a stranger on the street as much as you love your mother or your spouse, etc.

My understanding of the New Testament is that Christians are supposed to believe this, although I'm not sure I've ever seen it put into practise.

 

Michelle wrote:
It's a revelation that I love and care for radiorahim much more than I love and care for Sven?  Truly ground-breaking, indeed.

Ok, this really did make me laugh out loud. Laughing


Maysie
Offline
Joined: Apr 21 2005

Michelle: LOL!!

.

Hey Sven, do you care about other life-forms on other planets in other galaxies? Undecided

 

As for equality, that's not the goal in the struggles I'm involved with. It's equity.

 

 

Re the image below, I would also call the graphic on the right "equity". Not everyone has the same requirements. In fact, one could argue that treating everyone equally in this example is inherently unjust.

But having a discussion about that isn't of interest to Sven.

 

 


6079_Smith_W
Offline
Joined: Jun 10 2010

Evidently you are right, Sven.

I stand corrected.

 


lagatta
Online
Joined: Apr 17 2002

I also LOLled at Michelle's comment, and really liked Maysie's graphics. Including the fact that the three baseball fans managed to watch the game without paying... 


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or register to post comments