Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Gary Olson
http://j.mp/V5zAfX

 

Gary Olson

 'Gary Olson chairs the Political Science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. For the past few years he's been writing on the political implications of recent neuroscience research findings on empathy'


He is author of Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain and many articles on the role of empathy in society, culture and politics.

 
   

Links

 


 

Book: Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain (Free Preview)

Empathy is putting oneself in another’s emotional and cognitive shoes and then acting appropriately. The evolutionary process has given rise to a hard-wired neural system, described as “the most radical of human emotions, that equips us to connect with one another. But this critical connection has been short-circuited by the dynamic convergence of culture, politics and the brain under the hegemonic influence of neoliberal capitalism.

 

 The book explores this process through sections on education, the neoliberal state, neuromarketing, corporations, militarization, mass culture, film, photo images and media. How does the system blunt, bracket off and or otherwise channel empathy’s revolutionary potential? What does this reveal about how the world works and especially, how it might work better?

 

Empathy Imperiled offers a provocative, empirically grounded dissent from capitalism’s narrative about human nature. It offers a unique perspective on our current political culture and process and as such it will appeal to students and scholars in political science, psychology, anthropology, and several related fields.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 1. Introduction: Good, Better, and (Dangerously)

    • Best Samaritans

    • Beyond the Good Samaritan?

    • Dangerously Empathetic Samaritans

    • Notes

  • 2. Retrospective: Moral Outrage or Moral Amnesia?

    • The Execution Class

    • Postscript 2012

    • Notes

  • 3. Mirror Neurons, Evolution, and Eco-Empathy

    • Empathy Versus Ecocide

    • Notes

  • 4. The Body Politic’s Brain on Neoliberal Culture. Any Questions?

    • Cultures Suppress Some Emotions and Encourage Others

    • The Cultural Regulation of Emotion

    • Neuropolitics and the Encultured Brain

    • Gramsci on Culture

    • Notes

  • 5. The Neoliberal State and the State of Empathy

    • Limits on the Market State?

    • Notes

  • 6. Corporations: Empathy–Devoid Psychopaths

    • Culture Fogs the Brain’s Empathy Mirror

    • Notes

    • Contents

  • 7. Neuromarketing 101: Branding Empathy

    • Notes

    • 8 Militarism, Masculinity, and Empathy

    • Whither Empathy?

    • Notes

  • 9. The Empathetic Power of Images

    • Controlling Exposure

    • Empathy, Images, and Intellect Today

    • Notes

  • 10. Cuban Internationalism as Dangerous Empathy

    • Cuban Military Missions in Southern Africa

    • Cuban Medical Internationalism

    • Notes

  • 11. Conclusion: Making the World Safer for Loving Our Neighbors

    • Notes

 

 

June 15, 2011 - Masculinity, Militarism and Empathy
Knowing something of feminist-human rights activist and sociologist Kathleen Barry’s ground-breaking work on female sexual slavery and related topics, I hoped to unconditionally recommend her latest book Unmaking War, Remaking Men (Santa Clara, CA: Rising Phoenix, 2010).  And because I’ve recently been studying the politics of empathy, I was also favorably predisposed by the book’s intriguing subtitle, “How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Our Soldiers and Ourselves.” I do intend to make this book required reading in two of my courses, including a seminar on the politics of identity which has a gender component.  However, as will become clear below, my only hesitation for not totally embracing Barry’s thesis derives from questions I have about the political lessons she draws from her research. 



2010-06-26 - Empathy & Neuropolitics
Mirror neurons, the brain cells believed to be the basis for empathy, have recently been identified in the human brain. And yet we’re left to explain the disjuncture between this deep-seated, pre-reflective, moral intuition and the paucity of actual empathic behavior, especially in certain cultures. I suggest that answers may be found in the bidirectional connection between culture and brain development.

2010-02-09 - Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization and P.W. Singer’s Wired for War
Two recent books on the future, both seeking to interpret selected aspects of a rapidly moving, technologically complex world, are each deeply flawed but well worth examining for what's missing. One author fears we are heading toward global entropic destruction of the Earth’s biosphere unless we reinterpret history in light of new scientific evidence that proves humans are an empathic species. The other, more narrowly focused, explores the advent of military robotics, the revolutionary technology that promises to dominate future battlefields.
 

2009-10-13 - Frans de Waal's Age of Empathy: A Review and Critique
The next time you find yourself in a contentious conversation with someone who’s arguing that humans are inherently selfish, embrace killing and war, and (mis) using terms like “Social Darwinism,” give them a copy of Frans de Waal’s latest book, The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons For A Kinder Society (Harmony, 2009).
 

2009-06-01 - Empathy Marketing 101
Not infrequently the most convincing testimony to the veracity and potential power of new scientific discoveries is when they're embraced -- for profit-driven motives -- by corporate America. Today the incandecent mantra in business and advertising circles is "empathy marketing," or more broadly, neuromarketing (NM). Market researchers and advertising experts are attempting to stand shoulder to shoulder with "the better angels of our nature" in hopes this will increase sales. In short, putting oneself in another's shoes is a technique for selling them another pair.
 

2009-11-00 - We Empathize, Therefore We Are: Toward a Moral Neuropolitics
Based on recent findings from neuroscience we can plausibly deduce that the mirror neurons of the viewer were engaged by these images of others suffering. The appeal was to the public's awakened sense of compassion and revulsion toward graphic depictions of the wholesale violence, barbarity, and torture routinely practiced on these Atlantic voyages. Rediker notes that the images would instantaneously "make the viewer identify and sympathize with the 'injured Africans' on the lower deck of the ship . . ." while also producing a sense of moral outrage
 

2008-05-20 - Hard-Wired for Moral Politics: Neuroscience and Empathy
The nonprofit Edge Foundation recently asked some of the world's most eminent scientists, "What Are You Optimistic About?  Why?"  In response, the prominent neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni, cites the proliferating experimental work into the neural mechanisms that reveal how humans are "wired for empathy."
 

etc

 

 

 

Extended Contents with Notes

  • 1 Introduction: Good, Better, and (Dangerously)

    • Best Samaritans

    • Beyond the Good Samaritan?

    • Dangerously Empathetic Samaritans

    • Notes

  • 2 Retrospective: Moral Outrage or Moral Amnesia?

    • The Execution Class

    • Postscript 2012

    • Notes

  • 3 Mirror Neurons, Evolution, and Eco-Empathy

    • Empathy Versus Ecocide

    • Notes

  • 4 The Body Politic’s Brain on Neoliberal Culture. Any Questions?

    • Cultures Suppress Some Emotions and Encourage Others

    • The Cultural Regulation of Emotion

    • Neuropolitics and the Encultured Brain

    • Gramsci on Culture

      • [talks about intellectuals.  Aren't intellectuals like the detached concern of the doctor. Detaching from society and looking down on it, instead of feeling into it and empathizing with it. There's a detachment aspect. Which is not necessarily empathic.  Ties in with the studies on analysis inhibiting empathy?  Talk to Anthony Jack about that. Is the academic intellectual approach inherently unempathic?]

    • Notes

  • 5 The Neoliberal State and the State of Empathy

    • Limits on the Market State?

    • Notes

  • 6 Corporations: Empathy–Devoid Psychopaths

    • Culture Fogs the Brain’s Empathy Mirror

    • Notes

    • Contents

  • 7 Neuromarketing 101: Branding Empathy

    • Notes

    • 8 Militarism, Masculinity, and Empathy

    • Whither Empathy?

    • Notes

  • 9 The Empathetic Power of Images

    • Controlling Exposure

    • Empathy, Images, and Intellect Today

    • Notes

  • 10 Cuban Internationalism as Dangerous Empathy

    • Cuban Military Missions in Southern Africa

    • Cuban Medical Internationalism

    • Notes

  • 11 Conclusion: Making the World Safer for Loving Our Neighbors

    • Notes