Friday, December 4, 2009

Human Nature

"Indeed, it is in our biological nature, not our political institutions, that we should put our trust, our empathy is innate and cannot be changed or long suppressed. In fact, I’d argue that biology constitutes our greatest hope. One can only shudder at the thought that the humaneness of our societies would depend on the whims of politics, culture or religion.

Frans de Waal in another book published in October, “The Age of Empathy.” Dr. de Waal, a primatologist, has long studied the cooperative side of primate behavior and believes that aggression, which he has also studied, is often overrated as a human motivation.

“We’re preprogrammed to reach out,” Dr. de Waal writes. “Empathy is an automated response over which we have limited control.” The only people emotionally immune to another’s situation, he notes, are psychopaths.

(from nytimes)

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