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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Lori Gruen
http://j.mp/1GyciFG

  Entangled Empathy: From an Ethics of Justice to an Ethics of Empathy
Lori Gruen and Edwin Rutsch

Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, non-human animals. She has published extensively on topics in animal ethics, ecofeminism, and practical ethics more broadly.  Lori is author of, Entangled Empathy, An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals.

 

"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow

out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and

our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide

 excuses for not developing empathy."

 

Edward Hicks - The Peaceable Kingdom (Wikipedia)
 

From the book description, "In Entangled Empathy, scholar and activist Lori Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal "rights," we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about - and practicing - animal ethics."
 

Sub Conferences: Science


 
 
 
 
 

Philosophers Empathy Circle

For & Against Empathy  
Lori Gruen, Jesse Prinz and Edwin Rutsch


With David Hume looking over his their shoulders, Edwin Rutsch facilitates a new way for philosophers to dialog with each other about their views. Instead of a competitive debate, they try to empathize with each others feelings, needs, points of view and understandings. Edwin facilitates this Philosophers Empathy Circle with Jesse Prinz who is 'against empathy' and Lori Gruen who is 'for empathy'. Check out this fascinating process and discussion. How will it end?

 


The School of Athens, by Raphael (Wikipedia)

 
Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and
 author of 'The Emotional Construction of Morals'.
 
"empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful...
I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions
such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy,
provide the sentimental foundation for morality."


Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University and
author of 'Entangled Empathy: From an Ethics of Justice to an Ethics of Empathy'

"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow

out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and

our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide

 excuses for not developing empathy."

"I feel we need to build a global culture of empathy.
 It's the only way humanity and the planet can survive."


 
 
 

 

Entangled Empathy, An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals
(@Google Books)
   "In Entangled Empathy, scholar and activist Lori Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal “rights,” we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about—and practicing—animal ethics.

Gruen describes entangled empathy as a type of caring perception focused on attending to another’s experience of well-being. It is an experiential process involving a blend of emotion and cognition in which we recognize we are in relationships with others and are called upon to be responsive and responsible in these relationships by attending to another. When we engage in entangled empathy we are transformed and in that transformation we can imagine less violent, more meaningful ways of being together."

 

        Contents

Preface by Marc Bekoff
Foreword by Amy Fultz and Cathy Willis Spraetz
Introduction

1: Seeking an Alternative Ethic

  • The Failure of Traditional Ethical Theory

  • Traditional Ethical Theory and Animal Liberation ...

  • Dangers of Focusing on Sameness

  • Moving Beyond Principle-based Ethics

  • Ethics of Care

  • The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics

2: What Is Empathy?

  • Sympathy and Empathy

  • Different Forms of Empathy

  • Questioning Empathy's Role in Ethics

  • A Common Misconception about Empathy: Projection

3: Entanglements

  • Relational Selves

  • Entangled Empathy

  • Protean Entanglements

  • Intentional Earth Others?

  • Altered States of Perception

4: Improving Empathy

  • Epistemically Inaccurate Empathy

  • Inappropriate Empathy

  • Humility and Hope

Afterword by pattrice Jones
Notes
Acknowledgments
About the Author
About the Publisher


 

Lori Gruen, "Empathy beyond the Human"
starts at 9:00
 

 

Philosopher Lori Gruen to speak on “Justice and Empathy Beyond the Human”
(Video2:)

YouTube: Justice and Empathy Beyond the Human
"Can empathy play a role in the pursuit of justice, and do either justice or empathy help in thinking about ethics beyond the human?  Wesleyan philosopher Lori Gruen will explore these two questions in her March 10th lecture titled “Justice and Empathy Beyond the Human” as this year’s Robert D. Clark Lecturer in the Humanities.

The lecture will take place at 7:30 p.m. in 156 Straub Hall. In her talk, Gruen will argue that empathy is central to justice, and that it should play a central role in our ethical thinking and in our dealings with all sorts of different others, including other animals."
 

 

Contrasting an Ethics of Justice and an Ethics of Empathy/Care.
(direct link http://j.mp/1J2H1Iv )
In pages 32 to 34, of Entangled Empathy, Lori Gruen compares and contrasts an ethics of justice (traditional ethical theories) and an ethics of empathy and care. I find this to be one of the most important parts of the book.

"The division between justice and care, to a large extent, paralleled the different sorts of responses to ethical issues that tracked gender socialization, where girls, even in early play experiences, are often steered toward more caring and collaborative roles and boys toward more hierarchal and rule-based roles. Girls often respond to ethical questions by asking  further questions about social relationships, whereas boys often responded by invoking social standards or rules. An ethics of care sometimes was associated with "feminine" characteristics and an ethics of justice "masculine" ones." Entangled Empathy, Page 32.

1. Abstraction vs. Context
"..traditional ethical theories claims are not designed to fit the specifics of each individual situation. The details and particularities of the situation must be abstracted away so that what remains is the rule or principle. The traditional approach claims that when one is able to reason impartially from abstract principles one has achieved the highest level of moral development.

In contrast, an ethics of care finds the details that make up a situation to be indispensible to an adequate resolution of any moral problem. It makes being reflective about the context a crucial part of moral experiences. It makes being reflective about the context a crucial part of moral experiences."

2. Individualism vs. Relationally
"Traditional theories focus on a conception of rational "man" without even the most basic and necessary relationships among people. The nature of morality springs from the universal capacity of individuals to reason, rather than from the connections individuals have with one another. Care theorists view people as embedded in and emerging from social relationships."
 

3. Impartiality vs. Connection
"Impartial reasoning is the highest form of ethical deliberation in traditional approaches. For a decision to be just and unbiased, it must be impartial, and detached from personal and emotional responses to a situation.. An ethics of care rejects this kind of impartiality that requires moral decision-makers to detach themselves from the context in which they are making decisions, including who they are, the nature of their relationships with others in the situation, and their own involvement in that situation...."

4. Conflict vs. Responsiveness
"
Most traditional theories focus on situations of conflict and choice. An ethics of care has to address situations of conflict of course, but it is also concerned with how people come to see moral problems in the first place and tires to explore the moral imagination, not only as a way to reframe problems but as a means to move toward solutions."

She goes on to say we need a theory that is not justice vs. empathy but that bridges the two approaches.

 

Quotes:

"Sadly, much of the contemporary animal liberation movement continues to be guided by traditional ethical theories with their flaws".   Lori Gruen, Entangled Empathy, pg.15

"Moral attention in response to distress or tragedy is often referred to as compassion, and that is part of the reason I think entangled empathy is preferable for helping us think through those complex relations that involve more than suffering. Lori Gruen, Entangled Empathy, pg.37

"The primary difference between other forms of empathy and what has been called "cognitive empathy" is that in the later the empathizer is not mirroring or projecting onto the emotions of the one being empathized with, but is engaged in a reflective act of imagination that puts her into the objects situation and/or frame of mind, and allows her to take the perspective of the the other." Lori Gruen, Entangled Empathy, pg.48

"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide excuses for not developing empathy." Lori Gruen, Entangled Empathy, pg.82

 

 

 

September 28, 2015, Feeling into Action, Colin Dayan
Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals
Lori Gruen

"Yet empathy is a word I have always distrusted. Deep and enigmatic, at best it means being present to or with another being; at worst it calls forth a moral surround as exclusive as it is well intentioned. Along with sympathy, and often confused with it, empathy summons an intensely humanized world, where our emotional life—how much we feel for or with—matters more than the conditions that cause suffering and sustain predation.

 

Examples are all around us. To consider but one, we all know the sad excesses of sentiment that followed the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Money flowed to the coffers of international aid organizations and NGOs, but it never reached the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who continued to live as displaced persons in camps. Inhumanity can easily be moderated, legitimized, and even reproduced by the humanitarian concern that is analogous to it."

 

 

EXCERPT FROM “ENTANGLED EMPATHY:
AN ALTERNATIVE ETHIC FOR OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH ANIMALS” BY LORI GRUEN

"Today we bring you an excerpt from Lori Gruen’s new book, Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals. Flock members — read on past the except for your chance to win a copy of this book!
"
 

Entangled Empathy: How to Improve Human-Animal Relationships. by  
"A new book by Wesleyan University philosopher Lori Gruen called Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals is a wonderful addition to a growing literature in the transdisciplinary field called anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relationships. An interview I did with Professor Gruen lays out the basic foundation for her ideas about entangled empathy, a new and practical ethic for improving our relationships with nonhuman animals (animals) and also other humans. When I asked her to answer a few questions, in true form and to living up to her own deep connections with other animals, Professor Gruen wrote back to me, "OK at the vet with one of my rescued rats, will do this as soon as I get home!""
 

ENTANGLED EMPATHY
"Ethical arguments for considering the claims of the more-than-human world have tended to parallel arguments that extend ethical consideration outward from those who occupy the moral center. Expanding the circle is one way scholars and activists have tried to combat what is alternatively termed “speciesism,” “humanormativity,” or “human exceptionalism” – terms that have been used to identify a perceived ethical problem with human attitudes toward and treatment of other animals. Though there are advantages to this argumentative strategy, this talk suggests an alternative in which we come to see ourselves, not just as individual animal beings, but also as inextricably entangled with other animals."
 

Gruen, Lori. "Attending to Nature: Empathetic Engagement with the More than Human World".
Ethics and the Environment. Indiana University Press. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
"Val Plumwood urged us to attend to earth others in non-dualistic ways. In this essay I suggest that such attention be promoted through what I call "engaged empathy." Engaged empathy involves critical attention to the conditions that undermine the well being or flourishing of those to whom empathy is directed and this requires moral agents to attend to things they might not have otherwise. Engaged empathy requires gaining wisdom and perspective and, importantly, motivates the empathizer to act ethically."
 

“Empathy and Other Apes” co-authored with Kristin Andrews in H. Maimbom (ed.)
Empathy and Morality (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).  PDF
 



Lori Gruen -- "Entangled Empathy as Ecofeminist Praxis" - Neither Man Nor Beast
 
"Entangled Empathy as Ecofeminist Praxis will be discussing how the feminist care tradition in animal ethics has a long, and often overlooked, history. In this talk, the history will be briefly laid out and distinctions between care, compassion, and empathy will be discussed. Lori will present the notion of "entangled empathy" and disentangle it from some material feminist conceptions that extend care to all life. It will then turn to practical ways of understanding entangled empathy: how it works, how it might go wrong, and how it can be corrected."

  • Why empathy over rights?

    • need to move away from rights

    • another to look at the relationships

    • an ethics of justice

    • an ethics of care

  • focusing on empathy is a more progressive way of focusing on the relationships

  • Rights based versus Care based relationship

    • idea was men interested in justice

    • woman interested in care

  • Difference is really about

    • justice is focus on individualism

      • overlook oppression

    • care is focus on relationally

  • In an empathetic care based way of thinking we're paying attention to context

    • the problems based on exploitation based on liberal basis of rights

  • Entangled empathy - empathic engagement

  • Make the difference between sympathy and empathy

    • my definition

    • sympathy - feel sorry for them. you don't have a full understanding of the person.

      • we can maintain our differences

    • empathy - see how world looks to the other

      • the skill that we understand the other.

      • helps bridge differences in privilege, gender differences, animal embodiment

  • 8:30 - Entanglement- we are already in relationship

    • have self other distinction -

    • need to develop skills to do this

    • have a motivating feature. - will be moved to act when we understand

  • not a pre curser to praise or blame.

  • see what the other is going through from their

  • could use empathy - feeling with the other to take advantage of them

  • entangled empathy - improving the wellbeing of all

  • take the role of a polar bear, seal, etc.

  • Acknowledge Marti Heal -  a founder in this field

    • look at the larger structures

  • 1. empathy could be projection

    • it is a process

  • 2. empathetic torturer

    • condition is improving the wellbeing of all

    • [power over]

  • 3. self/other dualism

    • response

    • blending the self with other.

    • recognition of self


  • empathetic Accuracy

    • we get too involved in the context of the oppression

    • Over empathizing - don't recognize the full experience of the other.

  • Empathetic Aptness

    • Affective ignorance

    • Empathetic bias

      • seen in social justice movements.

      • bias toward one form of oppression

    • Empathetic overload - do self care.

      • solution: practice/better perception

  • Developing entangled empathetic skill

    • patience

    • courage - face it

    • self-reflection

    • humility

Q and E

  • Science - avoiding emotions and maintaining objectivity?

    • yes and no

    • how to make science more compassionate? a big question

 

 

 

Lori Gruen

 

"Lori Gruen talks about her work in entangled empathy at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University."

 

Politics of Species -- Lori Gruen -- Full Interview  - Entangled Empathy

 

Comments by Tom Atlee

I just listened to your interview with Lori Gruen and you are right: She and her work are truly remarkable. And your conversation with her was very stimulating for me. Below are the unedited notes I made while watching your video dialogue with her. Some of the notes are quotes or summaries of things she (or you) said. Some of them are thoughts that were triggered by what I heard, including critiques, implications, associations, impacts on my own thinking or plans, etc. - all mixed in together.

I find profound her sense of empathy being a natural and responsible recognition of and engagement with the quality of relationships we already have (which are virtually infinite), including both understanding them and our role in them and an effort to enhance the wellbeing and flourishing of all involved ("creating worlds that work for all"!). It so deeply overlaps my sense of co-intelligence that I'm now thinking of a whole new level in my re-framing of co-intelligence, the project I wrote to you that I want to immerse myself in over the next few months. Well, her work (and your interview with her) have now impacted that project. And increased my sense that I need to follow the other links you sent me, as well.

One of Lori's important points that could particularly clarify your work (in my view) is her defining empathy in terms of relationships that nurture mutual (or communal) wellbeing or flourishing, rather than in terms of "hearing" and "being heard" (which are best viewed as important means to that end, i.e., relationships of mutual flourishment - if I may coin a needed term!). Your (and NVC's) framing that point in terms of "meeting everyone's needs" is useful but perhaps not as vibrantly alive and compelling as wanting everyone involved to flourish. For example, what if empathy with the police or City Council in Berkeley (with whom you are struggling) involved an authentic effort to learn what they think would enable them to flourish in their roles and personal lives....?

A few of the places I would want to stretch Lori's frame (at least as far as she expressed it in her interview; her books may deal with some of these issues):


1. What constitutes "harm" and "flourishing" is not always clear in practice and is often dependent on (evolving) perspectives - especially in diverse communities (which present diverse perspectives on harm) and complex systems and scales of existence (that distance us from perceiving the effects of our actions). Furthermore, some forms of "harm" are intrinsic to life (e.g., eating, disease, death, and accidents - and evolution thrives on catastrophes).

 So there is room and need for extending our theories of empathy to address this (often decisive and divisive) nuance (especially in practice and policy) and to have productive dialogue (and humility!) at the unclear edges of this challenge.

One approach I thought of during my listening: The ideal might perhaps be to progressively minimize intentional, unnecessary, and oblivious harms - or optimizing the living balance between harms to the whole and its parts on the one hand, and the flourishing of the whole and its parts on the other hand - where "harm" and "flourishing" are continually being considered, redefined, and evolved by an evolving community or culture. To complicate matters further, we have factors such as "you are responsible for your own experience of suffering" (as in no one "causes" others to suffer, even if they cause them hardship or damage), and "we can learn and grow from the bad things that we do or that happen to us".

So what is the role of responsibility on the part of the "victim" of harm, and what is the role of the "victim's" and "perpetrators" learning and growth in harmful circumstances, and to what extent is empathy a tool for enhancing them or setting them aside in favor of "meeting everyone's needs"? (I suspect conservatives would like my last question!)

2. There is also more nuance available and needed in applying all this to social change movements. The two of you went quite far in your dialogue about that aspect, but also seemed to occasionally slip back into older ways of thinking about activism, empathy, and rights. There is SO much to explore there!

Expanding on your actions in Berkeley, Edwin, and your struggle to practice empathy with authorities rather than demanding rights (to put up your "empathy tent" in a public space) I wrote in my notes that, like Gandhi, "one can powerfully demand the right to have an empathic peer dialogue (in search of truth, life, flourishing by all parties) and, if well organized and PR'd (evoking the empathy of observing bystanders and receptive authorities), one can put immense (moral and material) pressure on the other party to engage in such dialogue.

In the meantime, many activists around you will be expressing their outrage in a wide variety of ways (as was true during King's and Gandhi's heydays), but within your ranks, you are doing something else, and part of the effectiveness of that empathic, nonviolent 'something else' is the disruptive energy that surrounds it as a threat to the status quo order which also pressures powerholders and observers to side with the empathic nonviolent folks as a better alternative.

I suspect that there are new ways to practice this kind of nonviolence which were not available to King and Gandhi, such as modeling empathic engagement in mass media or social media or Youtube, etc., to clarify what you are asking for and how you hope to ask for it, and what kind of society you envision as a result." This of course is only one thread of the empathic activism inquiry.

3. I hear from her a bit too much focus on the individual (person, animal, etc.) - or classes of individuals - as both the source and recipient of harms, or as what manifests "wellbeing" or is "flourishing" in a relationship. I see this as a reflection of the Enlightenment individualism she critiques. I long for more agency assigned to systems and cultures and stories, and respect for the suffering (and flourishing) of communities, ecosystems, species, even human (political, economic, educational, etc.) systems and cultures.

Any whole can be fragmented or ill or suffering, and can be healed or flourishing, and can create effects (good and/or bad) on other wholes. (This is where I ended up rooting my ideas in wholeness, although that is seen as too abstract by most people.)

Anyway, all this is tremendously juicy material and inquiry and I'm grateful for your encouragement to check it out. Lori's definitely someone who should be invited to the party exploring the nature of "the movement that (as yet) has no name" (to steal from Christopher Alexander), aka "the empathy movement".

Blessings on the Journey.

Coheartedly,
Tom

Transcribed Comments

Captivity: One can be trapped in situations and assumptions, not just in places like prison.

How to empathize with the Justice movement

"I think justice is a part of empathy." Although "Justice without empathy seems to separate us."

"Real transformation happens when we're always moving" suggests she has an evolutionary perspective.

Entangled empathy: We're already in webs of relationship and so many of those are "bad relationships"! Let's think about what's not working in those relationships and what we can do about it. That's a big project. (I think of AA and getting right with everyone you've done bad things to or forgiving those who have done bad things to you. Also the Council of All Beings.) A "bad" relationship is one where all parties aren't flourishing.

Entangled empathy is a way of consciously being, a way of practicing empathy, and requires a lot of work. It involves listening and perceiving and recognition and gaining certain kinds of wisdom about how others live their lives.

Enlightenment individualism = if you are in relationship with others, you can detach from others. She contrasts this with the understanding that we are always in all sorts of relationship. "You can't actually be independent of others at any point in time."

Marginalization is a way of collectively acting as if we're not in relationship with certain others.

Interesting word, "de-moralized" (to have one's moral sense undermined? to be set outside of a moral framework? I know it is more related to morale, but the word suddenly struck me in a different way...)

Failures of empathy are "failures of moral perception" (this is so similar to the Buddhist perspective, where all sins are sins of ignorance, the failure to perceive interconnectedness and wholeness)

Develop empathy with those close to you - family, colleagues, neighbors - as practice in empathizing with others you feel more separate from

Privilege as a way to not feel empathy (but/and note how Co-counselling includes using privilege as an empowerment tool for promoting more empathy, including for dissolving privilege)

I respect that she acknowledges the roles of power and anger in how all this plays out

In situations of radically unequal and abused power, it is beholden first for the privileged and abusers to practice empathy. But of course this is not an empathic strategy, since those who can't hear need to be heard before they can be open. In other words, empathic activism is going to be messy, and there is a role for the saints of the world (among both oppressed and oppressors) - and for the facilitators and NVCers - to model and practice the empathic hearing that is needed to break the cycles of not-hearing and not-seeing that have become hardened into walls, habits, prejudice, and othering... and who can do this without themselves needing to be heard first or also (although it is a good idea for them to have empathic support systems!!).

She recognizes that the systemic context conditions and constrains how people interact and what they think is right and possible, so that trying to inject a framing of empathy into a system of rights and justice is sort of square peg in round hole; we have a problem of communication.

It is significant that we have rights of "free speech" and "free association" (individual expression and action) rather than "free dialogue" (communal interaction)...

Gandhi's approach of using rights and disruption (a nonviolent form of power-over) not to get his way (which is dominance) but to pressure the powerholders to engage in dialogue (a search for truth) with him and his followers as peers.

Edwin: An inalienable need (for empathy), not just an inalienable right. Interesting possibilities with this framing. e.g., A Universal Declaration of Human Needs (would it be that different in its specifics, or just in its framing?)

"We have to back up and think about the structure of the social space that we're in" because the culture and systems shape what's possible or readily possible, or likely to happen. 'We have to find spaces or gaps where we can shift or get around it" (yes and no; Gandhi and King CREATED the spaces they needed. It is worth looking at what they did from that perspective.)

She begins to explore that by suggesting putting up the empathy tent and, when they come to take it down, THEN practice empathy with the authorities. The disturbance "provides you with an opportunity for dialogue and empathetic exchange, an opportunity to engage with people that you might not otherwise have."

Edwin is doing some of that by putting up his empathy tent without a permit, politely courting jail as he consistently seeks to practice empathy and dialogue about why they don't want him to put up his tent (what need are they trying to meet?)

Edwin: "By doing the activism it is uncovering places where the city (or system) is not being empathic."

Rights are barriers, disconnects. Empathy is a way of honoring the relationships that exist. "It isn't about replacing rights. It's about rethinking the kinds of connections we're in with one another."

Where she says "this may be a copout" (around 40minutes), I think it is. There's a false dichotomy between being in a world or situation where we can say "you aren't empathizing with me (or them)" (on the one hand) and battling for one's (or someone's) rights (on the other hand). Ref back to Gandhi and King (and a bit of Edwin and Lori's own ju jitsu analogy): one can powerfully demand the right to have an empathic peer dialogue (in search of truth, life, flourishing by all parties) and, if well organized and PR'd (evoking the empathy of observers and bystanders and receptive authorities), one can put immense (moral and material) pressure on the other party to engage in such dialogue.

In the meantime, many activists around you will be expressing their outrage in a wide variety of ways (as was true during King's and Gandhi's heydays), but within your ranks, you are doing something else, and part of the effectiveness of that empathic, nonviolent "something else" is the disruptive energy that surrounds it as a threat to the status quo order which also pressures powerholders and observers to side with the empathic nonviolent folks as a better alternative. I suspect that there are new ways to practice this kind of nonviolence which were not available to King and Gandhi, such as modeling empathic engagement in mass media or social media or Youtube, etc., to clarify what you are asking for and how you hope to ask for it, and what kind of society you envision as a result. Miki's book provides examples, perhaps.

It isn't a matter of having a "need for empathy"; it is more basic than that. We ARE IN these relationships: We need to understand them and figure out how to make them work for all involved. (Where "creating a world that works for all" overlaps with empathy.)

The effort to cause no harms is, in fact, impossible. Life is set up with eating, disease and death, for example, and evolution thrives on catastrophes. Also, "harm" is a complex term; what one sees as a harm may not be to others. Is abortion "killing the fetus/embryo/baby" or "nurturing the health and wellbeing of the mother/woman"? Is wiping out a disease organism a victory for life or an interference with evolution/nature or a violent act of genocide against another life form?

The ideal might perhaps be to progressively minimize intentional, unnecessary, and oblivious harms - or optimizing the intrinsic balance between harms to the whole and its parts on the one hand, and the flourishing of the whole and its parts on the other hand - where "harm" and "flourishing" are continually redefined and evolved by an evolving community or culture (as we see in the history of democracy).

Related more broadly: What is the role of collectives (communities and cultures and systems) in defining and constituting harm or nurturance, or is it centered on individual entities as the cause and recipient of harms (or nurturance) - and what is the relationship between the collective/whole and the individual in all this? There's a tremendous role for humility in the face of the complexity of our interconnectedness.

She says we are in relationships with the people working on gas lines. But we are also in relationship with the atmosphere (impacted by burning the gas and all lives impacted by climate change) and with the original organisms that became that gas.

Rights (justice) as a stepping stone to the promotion of wellbeing for all, as a means to empathy. Good integral realization!

Injustice is part of what we attend to when we're empathizing.

Both parties need to be heard in order for it to be "empathy". This feels clear when considering the supposed empathy of the successful torturer or marketing agent. It feels less clear when a healer is empathizing with a sufferer. How to articulate the difference? Tying empathy to relationships that nurture mutual (or communal) wellbeing or flourishing is a more fundamental definition than "being heard"; "hearing" and "being heard" are actually just (very important) means to that end.

This whole discussion inspires me to take another look at - and consider developing - my earlier idea of "citizen reflective councils" in possible preference to the concept of "citizen deliberative councils".