The Dark Side of Empathy
Is Empathy always good? In what ways are empathy and violence connected? Is empathy only a human attribute?
Empathy is usually defined as an emotional state which including caring for other people and having a desire to help them or experiencing emotions that match another person's emotions. According to many scientists, empathy is an integral part of human nature and of many animal societies, and which, as some suspect, is essential for human survival.
This episode of Science & Cocktails sets out to challenge the tendency, both academic and popular, to assign empathy the status of a virtue. The widespread inclination to associate empathy with the morally and socially “good”—with compassion, understanding, cultural bonding, and non-violent sociality—ignores what Bubandt and Willerslev propose to call the “dark side of empathy”: that is, the multiple ways in which empathy is routinely deployed to manipulate, seduce, deceive, and dehumanize others by means of vicariousness.
Two diverse ethnographic cases, of hunting in Siberia and political violence in Indonesia, provide the empirical background for a discussion of the complex relationship of empathy to mimesis, deception, violence, and sociality.
After the lecture, empathic cocktails and Tuhaf, playing songs which are homesick ballads and cry of unrequited love narrated, bawled and howled by the Turkish born lead singer Berrin Bas. The band displays meticulous attention to gritty antique detail, but also occasionally and haphazardly digs deep and rips loose into dervish vortex toward sufi void.
Entrance to the event is free. No registration is necessary. Doors open at 19:00.