Marian Miner Cook

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018 - Evening Program
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
Paul Bloom

Empathy, generally viewed as a universally desired trait, is actually one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society maintains Yale University professor of psychology Paul Bloom. A capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to narrow human prejudices, Bloom will argue that we are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on empathy, but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion.

Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art. He has won numerous awards for his research and is considered one of Yale’s most-renowned teachers, known for both his award-winning lectures to large audiences — as in his 500-person course "Introduction to Psychology" — and his more intimate seminars, such as his first-year class on the seven deadly sins.

Bloom is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the major journals in the field. He has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is the author or editor of seven books, including his most recent book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, in which he argues that empathy is a bad thing—that it makes the world worse. While we've been taught that putting yourself in another's shoes cultivates compassion, it actually blinds you to the long-term consequences of your actions.

Professor Bloom’s Athenaeum lecture is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.

Photo Credit: Sigrid Estrada