Comforting Thought: Empathy Between Gift and Invasion

Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

“I’m interested in everything that might be flawed and messy about empathy, how imagining other lives can constitute a kind of tyranny, or artificially absolve ourselves from guilt or responsibility. How feeling empathy can make use feel we’ve done something good when we actually haven’t.

“We start to like the feeling of feeling bad for others, it can make us feel good about ourselves. So there’s a lot of danger attached to empathy, it might be self-serving or self-absorbed, it might lead our moral reasoning astray, or supplant moral reasoning entirely. But do I want to defend it, despite ackowledgin this mess? More like, I want to defend it by acknowledging this mess”

Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams.

The Sensual World of The Unseen By Photographer Duane Michaels
The Sensual World of the Unseen

One messy thing about empathy is that we can’t be sure whether our connection to another’s experience might just be our own projection, desire, aspiration or delusion – or whether it’s kind of real.

From: Standing At the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet by Joan Halifax

Roshi Joan Halifax PhD is a Buddhist teacher, Zen Monk and Anthropologist who explores the edges of human experience and writes incredibly compelling books about the intersection of spirituality, psychology and human consciousness.

Book Review: Standing At the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet by Joan Halifax

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

2 thoughts on “Comforting Thought: Empathy Between Gift and Invasion

  1. Woah, this was extremely deep for a Tuesday. Still, comforting thoughts as ever! I found out that empathy is only good in small doses, as it does become a slightly self-absorbed obsession and that’s when it becomes dangerous. I’m always looking for some inspiration, so I’ll be on the hunt for Standing on the Edge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Im so glad you enjoyed this my friend. Yes it is very deep. This book is packed full of these insights. I think you will really love Standing on the Edge. There’s more from the book coming up on here in the coming months.
      I hope you’re having a good week so far, take care

      Liked by 1 person

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