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Josh F

Empathy works? Cmon now.....

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STer    34

My Dad didn't teach me empathy by abusing me.  That is an unkind distortion of my point.  My empathy isn't because of my father, it is in spite of him.  My frustration, anger, come from my Dad.  And the times I covered those emotions trying to be dispassionate or rational or super articulate while engaging in go nowhere arguments were also because of my father.

 I didn't say your dad "taught you empathy by abusing you." In fact, I specifically said "Your father didn't teach you how to empathize." and I said he "modeled the opposite" and you disliked that model and went in the other direction. That is an example of how someone can become more empathetic in response to a counter-example. You have repeatedly said the only way empathy comes about is by basically mimicking or internalizing empathy that someone shows to you. But the story of your dad is an example that you already had empathy inside you and his counter-example made you grow in empathy in order to oppose it.

 

You said "The thing, for me, that helps me refrain from being abusive is to think the thought 'I am being just like my father right now.'" So the example of your father gave you something to push against that helps you be less abusive to others. This shows that a counter-example can be powerful in making someone more conscious about empathizing with others, just as an example can be. Someone treating you with empathy can give you a role model to want to be more like. Someone treating you without empathy - or any example of someone lacking empathy - can give you a role model to try to be more unlike.

 

So, this is another mechanism by which empathy can grow. And there are still other mechanisms, as well. The point is that in different people in different situations, empathy can grow in response to a variety of mechanisms. The mechanism of "someone gives me empathy and as a result my empathy for others grows" is one, but not the only one. 

I hope you understand these contradictions aren't rational or neutral.  I find them telling.  Your desire to be right comes even at the cost of trying to hurt me (trying to use my own history against me) , distort my arguments, and then contradicting yourself to avoid responsibility.  Do you understand the underlying emotions going on here?

What I'm finding telling is that you are repeatedly misquoting me and then claiming I said things I didn't say, sometimes in spite of me literally saying the exact opposite of what you said, such as the quotes I bolded above. I could comment further on my perception of what is going on here, which obviously differs from your perception of what is going on. Suffice it say I disagree with your assessment. But I think it best that I don't get into that discussion any deeper.

 

I am sorry if you are finding the conversation upsetting. And I assure you that I am not trying to "use your history against you" or in fact do anything "against you." In fact, I think it is entirely admirable that, in response to your father's counter-example, you redoubled your efforts to be less abusive. And I'm not sure why you are so adamant that there is only one way people can grow in empathy or why you'd find that desirable. I am very happy that there are multiple means by which empathy is fostered. One of those is through counter-examples. That doesn't mean it is our favorite method. It is a shame such counter-examples exist. But, as long as they do exist, it's certainly better that empathy can grow out of counter-examples than if it couldn't and only abusers could ever emerge from abuse.

 

For me this is a discussion about various mechanisms by which empathy develops in people. It is not a personal issue of me vs. you. And I have no interest in a discussion that is like that.

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Josh F    204

Alright man, for my own reasons I need to end our dialogues here man.  Someone apologizing and then re-articulating the same thing they just apologized for in the next sentence hits too close to home, personally, for me right now. I really hope you can come to revisit some of this in a couple days and maybe offer some additional insight if you have any.

 

I am sorry if you are finding the conversation upsetting. And I assure you that I am not trying to "use your history against you" or in fact do anything "against you." In fact, I think it is entirely admirable that, in response to your father's counter-example, you redoubled your efforts to be less abusive.

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STer    34

Alright man, for my own reasons I need to end our dialogues here man.  Someone apologizing and then re-articulating the same thing they just apologized for in the next sentence hits too close to home, personally, for me right now. I really hope you can come to revisit some of this in a couple days and maybe offer some additional insight if you have any.

 

I apologized for the unpleasant feelings you might be experiencing if you were upset by how you were interpreting what I've said. But I also showed, with literal quotes, that I am not doing what you claim I'm doing or saying what you keep claiming I'm saying. If that doesn't help the situation, then I don't know what more can be said about it.

 

I agree that you should take a break from this and don't feel any obligation to respond to this. I just wanted to put my last thoughts on this across. I don't accept what you are claiming I'm doing and find it disturbing to repeatedly be accused of doing things I'm doing almost the exact opposite of and misquoted no matter how many times I go back and paste quotes showing I said something other than you claim. If this is hitting home for you in some way, by all means take care of yourself and you have my empathy for that. Hopefully, in return, you can empathize with what it's like to feel falsely accused of saying and doing things that I do not believe I've done, even after pasting quotes showing just that.

 

You say "My father didn't teach me empathy" as if i said he did. I paste the quote where I literally said he did NOT teach you empathy. This has no impact at all on changing your view of what I'm saying. And you don't seem concerned at all that you misquoted me. So I'm at a loss.

 

My interest in this thread is on the topic - "What are the various mechanisms by which empathy is amplified?" I have no problem using examples from our lives to examine those mechanisms in an objective kind of fashion. But when personal hostilities seem to be arising on your side - and especially when you then claim I'm being hostile when I'm not even remotely focused on the personal aspect of things - the discussion is going off the rails.

 

I guess my conclusion to this is that when you say "empathy is the only way to foster further empathy" that may not really be a statement about the world in general, but a statement of what you yourself may need. That is speculation so I may be wrong. It's just my guess. We have two threads going at the same time which are philosophical discussions of a sort of academic topic to me, but in both you have ended up appearing to be wanting personal empathy and frustrated at me for not empathizing enough. If you are feeling a need for empathy, I would suggest starting a thread about what is going on for you emotionally and asking for some support. I will be the first one to join it and offer that support. But in threads like this which are focused on particular philosophical topics, I'm not really in that personal feeling mode so it kind of comes as a surprise when the discussion turns personal. I'm just focused on the discussion of the topic and when suddenly there is a personal reaction to what is just an academic exploration as far as I'm aware, it is a bit out of the blue to me.

 

Edit: On second thought, it probably would really be a good idea to start that other thread where we can just forget these academic topics that seem to just be serving as proxies for personal things and focus directly on what's going on emotionally for you. That seems to be of much higher importance right now and these other threads are really just getting in the way of that. I am happy to talk about what is going on for you emotionally and be supportive and empathetic if you need that. Let's just take that somewhere else more dedicated to such a discussion.

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Josh F    204

I would like to keep this thread going guys, if you have any personal stories of empathy having positive results in online conversations please share!

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Guest darkskyabove   
Guest darkskyabove

"no you're wrong! dummy!" approach is completely ineffective.

 

Okay, that's the easy part. Well, easy for me. I can be an arrogant, sarcastic asshole with the flip of a switch, but I work pretty hard at keeping it dialed down.

 

And I get the advantages of empathy, mostly towards personal-type issues, but sometimes it helps in a non-personal discussion to not jump to conclusions when a person might have not framed their argument in exactly the way they meant. Going on the attack solves nothing, and taking the time to understand the meaning, not just the words, can make a huge difference.

 

What I'm not good at, and don't foresee a change, is when a person has presented a flawed argument, been given the chance to clarify, or re-state, and they become entrenched in a defensive posture. Then I'm on the receiving end of the "you're wrong, dummy!" method; which, for me, is an open invitation to release the "sophisticated word thug." :P

 

I'm open to suggestions, but I can also accept that the best option is to simply be extra choosy about what discussions to continue participating in.

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STer    34

I think there is a huge false dichotomy going on here.

 

The choices aren't "empathize" or "be mean and harsh." Empathizing, as an actual strategy, means to me where what you do, in response to what someone is saying, is to focus on their emotions and make those emotions the topic of conversation. Sometimes that is a great strategy that can open the person up to many other things.

 

But sometimes, focusing on their emotions is a distraction from other things that might be more relevant or of interest even to them. And sometimes they don't even want their own emotions to become the topic.

 

That doesn't mean the only other choice is to attack them. There are many other choices. For example:

 

1) Stick to the logical arguments, but keep a friendly or at least neutral tone.

2) Tell a story about someone you know that sheds light on the topic so they might see it in a new light

3) Arrange an experience, where you go with them to an event or a place where they will gain a new perspective

4) Do a thought experiment - like what happens with Scrooge - where you consider where certain lines of thinking and acting lead

 

I could go on and on. None of these choices involve empathizing, per se, as your activity of choice. But they are all very respectful and I can think of situations where everyone of these has led to someone changing their mind, even in cases where empathizing with them directly would probably not have.

 

Once again, it just depends on the person, what they value, their epistemology, how comfortable they even are with their feelings being the focus (some people will actually shut down, not become more open, if you focus directly on their feelings and prefer things discussed more indirectly).

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Josh F    204

Okay, that's the easy part. Well, easy for me. I can be an arrogant, sarcastic asshole with the flip of a switch, but I work pretty hard at keeping it dialed down.

 

And I get the advantages of empathy, mostly towards personal-type issues, but sometimes it helps in a non-personal discussion to not jump to conclusions when a person might have not framed their argument in exactly the way they meant. Going on the attack solves nothing, and taking the time to understand the meaning, not just the words, can make a huge difference.

 

What I'm not good at, and don't foresee a change, is when a person has presented a flawed argument, been given the chance to clarify, or re-state, and they become entrenched in a defensive posture. Then I'm on the receiving end of the "you're wrong, dummy!" method; which, for me, is an open invitation to release the "sophisticated word thug." :P

 

I'm open to suggestions, but I can also accept that the best option is to simply be extra choosy about what discussions to continue participating in.

 

Once someone becomes abusive, and I'm no expert here, I find that informing them of their abuse gives them an opportunity to continue the debate by apologizing and changing their tone.  This is not something you owe them, but if it is the right context in the right location you're free to do so.  However, when they refuse to change their tone, you need to move on.  They may persist, but it is a matter of self-respect now if you continue to engage abusive people.  You don't owe them enlightenment or truth or even a second of your time.  We're in dire circumstances.  The government is literally killing people and robbing them as we speak, there is no time to waste trying to heal fatal humans.  This is triage. 

 

I think the above conversation is a very insightful, revealing the motives of the so called neutral debater, and their underlining abusive intentions.  I might have made the mistake of not cutting it off soon enough, but in the context of this forum and topic it seemed worth at least one last attempt at taking it beyond its intellectual mask.  In general, complete waste of time though, except in so far as it proved my thesis.

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STer    34

Once someone becomes abusive, and I'm no expert here, I find that informing them of their abuse gives them an opportunity to continue the debate by apologizing and changing their tone.  This is not something you owe them, but if it is the right context in the right location you're free to do so.  However, when they refuse to change their tone, you need to move on.  They may persist, but it is a matter of self-respect now if you continue to engage abusive people.  You don't owe them enlightenment or truth or even a second of your time.  We're in dire circumstances.  The government is literally killing people and robbing them as we speak, there is no time to waste trying to heal fatal humans.  This is triage. 

 

I think the above conversation is a very insightful, revealing the motives of the so called neutral debater, and their underlining abusive intentions.  I might have made the mistake of not cutting it off soon enough, but in the context of this forum and topic it seemed worth at least one last attempt at taking it beyond its intellectual mask.  In general, complete waste of time though, except in so far as it proved my thesis.

 

Very convenient of you to ignore an entire paragraph where I said that if you are having emotions that you need to talk about to start a thread and we can focus on them there. Also convenient that you ignore my many specific examples of you misquoting me and make no apology for it. Now I'm abusive because I dare to offer alternative approaches that can bear fruit and have born fruit in discussions I've had?

 

I think it is you who has been abusive in this thread making false accusations and projecting your emotions onto me. You started a thread suggesting a way to help people open up to mind change. Apparently pointing out that this is not the only way to do it and that it is a way that sometimes doesn't work, is something unacceptable to you. However, that is my experience and I've offered some alternatives.

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Carl Green    192

Very inspiring ThoughtTerrorist. 

 

Don't expect the seed of curiosity about a morally consistent premise to bloom as soon as you plant it, but if done correctly, it will work eventually where there is potential. So even if we don't directly see positive feedback from approaching negative and misguided YouTubers with empathy it might just take them a while to see the truth.

 

 

Also, I just listened to podcast #192 "Curiosity and Personal Relationships" and it might help shed some light on how/why the thread took a bit of a turn for a bit.

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