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Culture of Empathy Builder Luísa Semedo


Luisa Semedo & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture Based on a Morality & Ethics of Empathy

Luísa Semedo is a PhD Philosophy student at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France. Her PhD dissertation is about Ethics of Empathy.  The aim of her interdisciplinary work is to frame a new ethics in which empathy is its foundation (contagion, empathic distress and imitation), its instrument (simulation, imagination and empathic concern) and its purpose (trust, altruism, cooperation and respect).

Her definition of empathy is “ ...a modular, universal and innate faculty that allows us to be affected (emotional empathy), to recognize (cognitive empathy) and to respond (empathic action) properly to the subjectivity of others.”

She says that empathy is like dreams, because in dreams we can be a different version of ourselves. In real life, empathy allows us to put ourselves in the place of others, and experienced others lives. Because of our common humanity, others are a possibility of us.  The opposite of empathy is a desert island.
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  • 00:00 Introduction

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 How can we build a culture of empathy?

1. Give empathy a serious, a respectable, and a documented framework.
   Clarifying the definition of empathy.
   Promote the concept of empathy in academic world, and also vulgarize the concept.

2. Educate people through empathy to the ethical idea of the universality and the singularity of others.
Other is at the same time “the same”, and “another”.


3. Promote an optimistic idea about humankind.
 If humankind is not worthy, how and why should we build a culture of empathy and compassion? We must defend at least a methodological optimism, that is very practical and pragmatical, simply because it works. At a personal level it’s a question of build self-confidence. You can make great things if you believe, or if someone makes you believe that your are capable of doing it. And to do this things you must also believe that is worthy. That humankind “deserves” our efforts to build a culture of empathy and compassion. And also that moral progress is possible.