Roman Krznaric is
a cultural thinker and writer on the art of living. He is a founding
faculty member of The School of Life in London, which offers instruction
and inspiration on the important questions of everyday life, and advises
organisations including Oxfam and the United Nations on using empathy and
conversation to create social change. He has been named by The Observer as
one of Britain’s leading lifestyle philosophers.
is author of
The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live
and is now working on a book on empathy.
"I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping
into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective –
is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the
art of living. As I describe in this video definition of empathy, it
matters not just because it makes you good, but because it is good for you"
The Power of
Outrospection - Empathy
Here is a fun RSA animation of a talk given by Roman
Krznaric at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts in the UK.
Roman talks about empathy as a revolutionary force.
Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action
and create a transcription of this video, check
the volunteers page. The transcriptions will make it easier for
other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)
"For four centuries, we have embraced a narrow view of human nature.
Roman Krznaric has set out to widen our perspective. He talked with
Martin Eiermann about human empathy, self-absorbed psychologists, and
the importance of a little bit of madness."
...Empathy isn’t a nice and fluffy concept, it’s fiery and dangerous and
radical. It’s ultimately a revolutionary force – not in the sense of
overthrowing institutions, but by revolutionizing human relationships."
" Here’s a new podcast from
the rather wonderful Aeon
Magazine, in which philosopher Jules
Evans explores the theme of empathy. I kick off by talking about the
history of empathy, tracing the concept from Adam Smith’s ideas in the 18th
century and through developments in child psychology over the past hundred
If you think you’re hearing the word “empathy”
everywhere, you’re right. It’s now on the lips of scientists and
business leaders, education experts and political activists. But there
is a vital question that few people ask: How can I expand my own
empathic potential? Empathy is not just as a way to extend the
boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a
habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives."
But if shame is such a burden, what are we supposed to
do about it? The answer is developing ‘shame resilience’, and it is
empathy that is the ‘real antidote to shame’. What does she mean? ‘If we
can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and
understanding, shame can’t survive.’ So we can’t really get over shame
without other people. We can’t keep shutting it out by keeping ourselves
busy (or distracted). We can’t wish it away by denying our feelings.
What we really need to do is seek connection with someone who is going
to lend us an empathic ear, someone who is able to listen to us and
endeavour to understand our fears, anxieties and uncertainties."
"Drawing on his new book, The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to
Live, cultural thinker Roman Krznaric reveals how empathy - the art of
stepping into the shoes of another person and seeing the world from
their perspective - can not only enrich your own life but also help
create social change by helping us challenge prejudices and overcome
social divides. Drawing on everything from the empathy experiments of
George Orwell to developments in neuroscience and industrial design,
from the struggle against slavery in the eighteenth century to the
Middle East crisis today, Roman explores six different ways we can
expand our empathic potential."
00:00 - 20th century, era of introspection
self help - look into yourself
didn't work out so well
21st century - need to shift to outrospection
step out side yourself
ultimate art form for this is empathy
empathy doesn't just expand your moral universe -
it's good for you
bonds between people
its about social change
empathy can create a revolution of human
Culture told us we are self interested beings
New Science - homo empathicus
Frans De Waal
Set habits of empathy
1. curiosity of others
George Orwell - did it - go tramping
2. challenge prejudice
CP Ellis - from KKK to caring
3. Experiential empathy
Patricia Moore - dressed as old person -
4. Art of conversation
two way dialogs
Parents Circle - Palestinians and Israeli
5. Rise and fall of empathy during history
Anti - Slavery story
experience being a slave
6. Develop imagination
empathize with those in power
empathize across space and time
16:00 - Q and A
In London - blocking out others it's overwhelming?
empathic over arousal - only a few have this
we're not doing empathy enough
17:4 - not really empathizing but projecting
am in the midst of a long-term project to document instances when
empathy has flowered on a mass scale and shifted the course of human
history. While empathy has periodically collapsed on a collective scale
– just think of colonialism in Latin America or the Holocaust – there
have also been moments when it has emerged as a force for positive and
radical social change.
more about the crucial role of empathy, which I know is a great interest
of yours. What should we all keep in mind about empathy?
I think we’ve been too obsessed with self-interest over the last
century, and that’s limited the way that we pursue the good life. I
think that empathy – the ability to try to imagine yourself into someone
else’s life, to look through their eyes – can expand our lives
enormously. Of course, if you see somebody begging under a bridge you
might feel sorry for them or toss them a coin, but that’s not empathy,
it’s sympathy or pity. Empathy is when you have a conversation with
them, try to understand how they feel about life, what it’s like
sleeping outside on a cold winter’s night – try to make a real human
connection and see their individuality."
"What exactly is empathy? The concept was invented over a century ago by
German psychologists and now has two main meanings. The traditional
approach is to think about empathy as an emotional connection between
individuals. A different approach, and the one I consider essential for
the art of living, is empathy as an imaginative leap in which you
endeavour to understand the world from the perspective of another
If you open a psychology textbook you will usually encounter the first
approach, in which empathy is defined as the capacity to share or
partake in the emotional life of others. That is, being able to feel
what another person feels, such as when you feel anguish upon seeing the
tearful anguish on the face of a child. Every time you wince when you
see someone in pain, you are displaying empathy. someone who is feeling
bereft after the death of a family member. "