Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Useful Lecture About Empathy by Baron-Cohen

Everyone who takes courses of study like the CDP encounters the concept of empathy because of its importance for any work involving people. You might therefore be interested in a recent lecture by Professor Baron-Cohen in which he offers a definition of empathy, an exploration of some of the kinds of personalities that result when the ability to empathise fails to develop in one way or another, and a useful survey of some results in the field of empathy.

Here is how Baron-Cohen and his lecture are described on the LSE webpage:

"World-expert Simon Baron-Cohen presents new discoveries on the importance of empathy, and the problems with evil. Simon Baron-Cohen, expert in autism and developmental psychopathology, has always wanted to isolate and understand the factors that cause people to treat others as if they were mere objects. In this book he proposes a radical shift, turning the focus away from evil and on to the central factor, empathy. Unlike the concept of evil, he argues, empathy has real explanatory power.
Putting empathy under the microscope he explores four new ideas: firstly, that we all lie somewhere on an empathy spectrum, from high to low, from six degrees to zero degrees. Secondly that, deep within the brain lies the 'empathy circuit'. How this circuit functions determines where we lie on the empathy spectrum. Thirdly, that empathy is not only something we learn but that there are also genes associated with empathy. And fourthly, while a lack of empathy leads to mostly negative results, is it always negative?

"Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor at Cambridge University in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. He is also the Director of Cambridge's internationally-renowned Autism Research Centre. He has carried out research into social neuroscience over a career spanning twenty years."

Image from wikipedia.


panel ├žit said...

thanks for sharing