Empathy and Humankind

According to its website,

The Royal Society of Arts in London.

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For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.

One of the RSA’s most interesting, and I daresay successful projects, is the animation of excerpts of lectures by prominent thinkers.

In the RSA animation below, economist Jeremy Rifkin talks about the soft-wiring of humans for empathy.  The excerpt is very rich with ideas and optimism for expanding the human family.  In it, he defines empathy as the acknowledgement of death and reaffirmation of life.  Many early political thinkers identified the fear of death and the concomitant instinct for self-preservation as driving forces for enlarging the family to society and cultures in order to protect individuals from the brutality, aggression and violence of human life.  What is quite interesting here is that starting with the discovery of mirror neurons, Rifkin takes the human coming-to-terms with death beyond nation-state consciousness and theological consciousness to something more universal and inclusive.

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