Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

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Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:32 am

Seems my respect for Hegel's thesis/antithesis philosophy is greater than initial impression(s).

Just learned empathy and compassion are being studied/analyzed by scientists ... neuroscience.

Apparently mentioning brain and emotion in the same sentence was taboo in the mid 90's.

For me ... this video is fascinating ... even has echoes of thoughts expressed in the Dao De Jing

http://ccare.stanford.edu/videos/defini ... ectives-8/
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sat Apr 08, 2017 4:38 am

Hello pilgrim-seeker_tom.

:D

I have been meaning to get around to responding to this post and thought I would let someone else respond first. Given that nobody has responded yet and I have some free time I guess I am now going to post first. In my first response I will not be mentioning Hegel or the Dao De Jing because Hegel I have not read up on and the Dao De Jing just gets me excited. If you could send me a link to the Hegel video you mentioned in another thread that would be great. Later I will mention Dao De Jing as I think your "echoes of thoughts" are interesting.

I am going to present my analysis of the video in parts mainly because of the length of the video and time limitations imposed on myself.

I present here mixed and skeptical view as I feel it is important to keep an open mind. I find the video to be well worth watching.

One of the speakers mentions at around 4:20 to 4:30: That they have a long way to go. To me this is a very significant thing to take note of.

We have a long way to go.

I would like to mention here too that sometimes rules, laws and theories of science among others are dismissed in favor of the better, if not sometimes worse.

What is going on in the brain should be approached carefully as I think the mind and body certainly act differently and at the brain level we are truly only starting to probe things in focused senses as opposed to taking a holistic approach. Quantum mechanics has a few things to offer at the mico-tubule level for instance. The neural states the speaker mentions at around 7:30; the speaker states himself are relative to the subject or individual; this means that each persons neural states are unique, which makes sense.

I will now move onto compassion which is something I hold in high regard and think there is a lack of in this world. At 8:50 the speaker has a quote up on screen which speaks of non-referential compassion - this is something worthy of deep consideration. I speak in some of my other threads of self-reference which is great and all but I have thought for a while that there must be a non-reference type too.

At 13:47 the speaker says that muscle contributions do not account for the phenomenon observed - well I say they do - I say this because of research into mirror neurons - there is skepticism here but skepticism is healthy. The same skepticism should surround what this speaker says so that in the end we get it right.

At 15:15 the speaker states different neural states and this is valuable - if everyone is different then any treatment would be different. Acupuncture, pharmaceutical and massage to name a few would be tailored differently to each individual and compassion and empathy would be no different.

To be completely objective I really like the bit at 18:00 where he mentions being able to understand the suffering of sentient beings. I think to remove suffering we do need to be able to understand it and define it better.

It is very interesting how the monks are able to achieve a different state to the controls. There is a lot to be considered when it comes to meditation.

Well that is my thoughts on the first twenty minutes - I hope they are worth something.

:)
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sat Apr 08, 2017 5:56 am

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:For me ... this video is fascinating

Me too.

:D

It is very interesting what the speaker mentions of the novices and how their readings are improved by meditation at around 20:44.

24:54 The speaker talks of the monks laughing because compassion in their terms was measured from the heart as opposed to the brain. I found this nice. I also like the way the research took this seriously to stir correlations between the heart and brain. The results I feel are quite significant.

29:06 Elements of Compassion Training - what a beautiful concept - the speaker shows another screen that talks about contemplating and visualizing the suffering and then wishing the freedom from that suffering for:

    - A loved one
    - Themselves
    - A stranger
    - A difficult person
    - All beings

The phrase most used to wish the freedom from suffering and I quote the screen: "May you be free from suffering. May you experience joy and ease". The participants were instructed to take notice of the visceral sensations especially in the heart area. The participants were also instructed to feel the compassion emotionally; not simply repeat phrases cognitively.

The game the speaker talks about at 32:09 is interesting because it talks about altruism in economics and and how a third party would distribute wealth between a dictator and the recipient. What we are interested here is how compassion training affects the outcome of the game.

The next screen that the speaker presents is somewhere around 35 minutes and I find the second paragraph particularly interesting in that it takes us back to self-reference. The screen contains a question: What is the relation between the cultivation of compassion and self-related processes?

The next paragraph deals with the relationship between self-compassion and pain. The last paragraph details the likelihood of acting in the face of suffering.

There is another screen presented next that I wont go into because I do not want this post to be too long and after this we move into some question time at around 37:30.

So in my first two posts I briefly cover what the first speaker covers. This is my thoughts up to 42:40 of the video.

:D
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:51 am

First, let me express my gratitude for investing your time to watch/listen to the video and share/post some of your reactions.

If you could send me a link to the Hegel video you mentioned in another thread that would be great.


If I understand Hegel correctly ... just finished the 20 minute google tour :-)


I poked around wiki mostly.

Encode_decode ... I lack the knowledge to respond to your technical comments/questions.

Though happy to share what my "small town mind" took away from watching/listening to the video.

1) Impressed by the phrase ... "the brain recruits circuitry" ... left me with the impression the brain functions like a 'military'

2) Near the end of the first talk ... a question for the future ... "What is the impact of a highly compassionate person on others?" Reminded me of the Dao De Jing ... and the mysterious "sage".

3) The second speaker ... Tanya ... while English is not her mother tongue and her slides were not overly impressive I came away with the conclusion that how the human brain processes/handles empathy is an incredibly complex issue.

4) The material presented is all new to me ... while not skeptical per se ... more cautiously optimistic towards future research effort and results.

The empathy presentation reminded me of Elizabeth Stein ...

wiki

In 1916 Edith Stein received a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Freiburg with a dissertation titled Zum Problem der Einfühlung (On the Problem of Empathy) and directed by the phenomenological philosopher Edmund Husserl.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:46 am

In that case let me express my gratitude in return for sharing a link to what I consider a very interesting video.

Regarding Hegel - I will take your approach and take a look around wiki too.

I can see your connection regarding the video to the Dao De Jing.

I can imagine that how the brain processes/handles empathy is an incredibly complex issue. I have not watched the second speaker yet - I will be doing that later on this evening.

The way the material is presented is new to me - it is interesting - I understand a lot of what the first speaker talks about and have a feeling that these researchers are pursuing a really valuable path.

On the Problem of Empathy(Edith Stein) - I will take a look at this too.

Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy - I can see how important this is to consider as part of a grounding philosophy - I recently watched a neuroscience video that talks of social acceptance being an important driver to cementing our own ideas in our respective heads. I also think this may fit in with Konflikt somehow - imagine being able to create a flexible balance that makes everyone content in life - the kind of balance that keeps people dealing with Konflikt more level headed than the way things are now.

For people to understand that people "get each other" in a subconscious manner would make life easier for everyone I think.

"Edith Stein also thinks that through acts of empathy we can come to learn what type of person we are. This is partly because through acts of empathy we can become more fully aware of what it is that we actually value." Source
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:20 am

"Edith Stein also thinks that through acts of empathy we can come to learn what type of person we are. This is partly because through acts of empathy we can become more fully aware of what it is that we actually value."


It tickles my 'heart' and to a lesser degree my 'mind' that this thread presents the opportunity to discuss Philosophy, Science and Religion/Spirituality all on the same page.

Thanks for the article ... I read it ... tough sledding ... unrecognizable terminology.

Though immediately fell in love with one of the closing statements:

"It’s not clear to me that Stein has demonstrated that the possession of empathy is a necessary
condition for self-knowledge of one’s material nature. But still this is a very cool philosophical move: if
Stein is right, not only must I have empathy but there must also be other people who have empathy in
order for me to have this kind of self-knowledge. Knowledge of my nature requires a community."


Seems to me the antithetical position is also true ... though can't find the words at the moment to state it.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sat Apr 08, 2017 10:34 am

So I went on the search for information relating to Edith Stein and found an interesting document that shed light on her - I will be giving seven quotes from the mentioned document; read online in pdf format; each quote is followed by a comment - the source link is provided below the quotes.

Quotes are from:

    Edith Stein: On the Problem of Empathy
    Kris McDaniel
    Syracuse University
    3-25-2014
    Forthcoming in Ten Neglected Philosophical Classics, ed. Eric Schliesser, Oxford University Press

In the "Background to the Text" the author expresses a reason to worry that Edith's importance to the evolution "of that tradition" is under-appreciated due to minimal discussion of her and her work; so for this reason thank you for bringing Edith to my attention Pilgrim-seeker_tom.

Author wrote:We could in principle have a kind of scientific community of philosophers, provided that the phenomenological method is one that can be taught and hence propagated.

I like the concept - I often thought of a "next knowledge" - the "after science" so to speak.

Author wrote:On Stein’s view, universals (of which meanings are a species) can be presented in a primordial experience or be bodily given.

Sounds exactly like something I would think of - I like this Edith Stein.

:)

Author wrote:Stein clearly thinks that the meanings of words can be given in primordial experience. But in empathetic acts, foreign experiences are not primordial.

Interesting.

Author wrote:Let’s turn now to primordiality. This technical expression suggests a kind of original or unfounded experience. Perhaps primordial experiences are ones in which an object is given but not in virtue of some other experience in which an object is given. Alternatively but relatedly, perhaps a primordial experience is one that does require another experience in order to present its object.

I wont make a significant comment on this; I purely quoted this for prosperity.

Author wrote:Stein does point out that not every non-primordial experience needs to be fulfilled by a primordial experience. She claims that an episode of memory is fulfilled when “its experiential continuity to the present” is established.

Something worthy of further thought.

Author wrote:According to Stein, we have aspects that we cannot have knowledge of unless we perform empathetic acts. Stein’s metaphysic of the human person is in On the Problem of Empathy is that human persons are essentially conscious living physical beings.

This makes me wonder whether there is some path we should be following in order to have a full compliment of empathetic acts to give us all the aspects that we would otherwise have no knowledge of.

Author wrote:It’s not clear to me that Stein has demonstrated that the possession of empathy is a necessary condition for self-knowledge of one’s material nature. But still this is a very cool philosophical move: if Stein is right, not only must I have empathy but there must also be other people who have empathy in order for me to have this kind of self-knowledge.

Between the self-knowledge and non-referential thing mentioned by the first speaker it is apparent that our internal and external knowledge is important to our being.

Source Link to the above Quotes

I saved this post as a draft before you posted Pilgrim-seeker_tom - so the article that is quoted you have already read - it is just that I was so impressed that I had to quote it and add my tidbits. I hope you don't mind.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:It tickles my 'heart' and to a lesser degree my 'mind' that this thread presents the opportunity to discuss Philosophy, Science and Religion/Spirituality all on the same page.
I must admit when I first noticed your OP I thought to myself "Awesome".

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:Thanks for the article ... I read it ... tough sledding ... unrecognizable terminology
I also found it tough sledding especially in the middle.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:Though immediately fell in love with one of the closing statements:
I had to sit here for a while and contemplate the Author's writing.

:D

Apologies for the large post . . .
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:11 am

Speaking of community - there was a scientific documentary produced a few years ago now that looked into secrets to living a long life; one of the segments of the said documentary looked into why people in Okinawa and Sardinia seemed to lead extraordinarily long lives. In the end it seemed to boil down to community, family and happiness. I imagine spirituality has a positive effect on life - I know I feel happier than most people around me - they probably think I am crazy - I put my happiness down to spirituality most of all but I definitely think community and/or family as well as happiness leads to a great life and obviously a long life; there are other studies that point to stress being a detrimental factor to ones health.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Sun Apr 09, 2017 12:10 am

The expression ... religion is opium for the masses ... is very likely a true statement.

The effectiveness of 'religion' as a 'proxy' for mind altering drugs has been wearing thin in the past century ... has it been replaced with the real thing ... actual mind altering drugs like prozac?

ti_graphics_antidepressants-chart.png
ti_graphics_antidepressants-chart.png (75 KiB) Viewed 203 times
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Sun Apr 09, 2017 12:36 am

I am only going to make my thoughts on the second speaker short; later on I will watch the video through again and make a more substantial post.

I think there is definitely a difference between sympathy and compassion like the second speaker mentions.

Behavior is definitely a key to compassion and empathy - I have already begun my own studies and theories on behaviour which details such topics as "Bounded Rationality" and "Bounded Emotions" along with other goodies like the senses and consciousness itself. The mirror neurons that I mentioned before are a part of this study and this video is great for me because it adds a few missing components or dimensions to my thought pattern regarding neuroscience. I have also concluded that the social conscious or collective conscious is fundamental to our well-being.

I think that the subjects in the video title all warrant at least some discussion.

I will list the subjects in the video title as follows:

    Defining Compassion, Empathy & Altruism
    Economic, Philosophic & Contemplative Perspective

An inspiration for an essay title that comes to mind is: The Art of the Selfless for Society's Benefit

Here is something personal that a comment the second speaker made reminded me of; My wife who is currently living and working in the USA and I who am currently living and working in Australia have a long distance connection where it seems that when she is sick I seem to feel it a little and vice versa - that same effect happens when she is worried or when I am worried. The good news is neither of us get sick nor worried very often. Although the current state of the world does concern the pair of us.

Empathy Training - another great idea - I have an autistic friend who has a high level of empathy. I would suggest that the results the second speaker speaks of at 1:03:28 point to the degree of alexithymia being the driver to a lack of empathy are correct.

I agree that we should show compassion for ourselves - The monks suggest this and the second speaker mentions it.

The second speaker seems very knowledgeable in her field - I found her talk very interesting - It is hard for me to find any disagreements with what she has said.
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:53 am

Interesting feedback ... thanks

What concerns me about Tanya's research is the fact that real people are involved ... versus mice, rats, monkeys etc.

Begs the question ... "How do her research techniques peel off the effect of the mind altering drugs in the minds of her research participants.

Of course ... none of her research participants are taking prozac ... yet ... consider the less potent mind altering drugs ... those drugs with litte or no perceivable immediate impact/influence yet potentially disastrous long term effects/influence.

The mind altering drugs found in our food chain, water supply, good health additives, vaccinations and so on.

Fruit of enormous capital investment ... coupled with enormous human intellect can hardly be called accident.

What may be an accident ... or the law of unintentional consequences ... is overlooking the fact that there is a kernel of truth in all religions/spirituality. This kernel of truth may come back to bite them in the ass. :D

Although the current state of the world does concern the pair of us.


Worry doesn't help ... as the French say "que sera sera".

If extinction is in the cards so be it! As some people say ... "it's better to die standing up then to live on your knees"
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Re: Empathy and Compassion as a root philosophy

Postby encode_decode » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:20 am

I will start this post by mentioning Oprah Winfrey and something that she tried once that always inspired me. It is meant to be related to my response to the fourth quote below.

I remember a little experiment that Oprah Winfrey performed on random acts of kindness - the result was chain reactions that were sometimes short lived and at other times lasted much longer.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:Apparently mentioning brain and emotion in the same sentence was taboo in the mid 90's.
I remember a few other things that were frowned upon too. I think when things become taboo it is because people get too scared to deal with their own emotions regarding the truth.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:The expression ... religion is opium for the masses ... is very likely a true statement.
I vaguely remember this expression but I can see how it is true. Certain religions tend to follow a very closed path.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:The effectiveness of 'religion' as a 'proxy' for mind altering drugs has been wearing thin in the past century ... has it been replaced with the real thing ... actual mind altering drugs like prozac?
I see what you mean. I think the overall story is even more complicated. I think science might have a few things to answer for here too but I am also certain with technology we we be able to target illnesses better through better drugs and better counseling services. If community was taken more seriously, people would be less reliant on antidepressants and the like.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:"What is the impact of a highly compassionate person on others?"
I have experienced the impact first hand and seen it in others and I think the impact is that of a chain reaction - sometimes short lived and other times life changing.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:What concerns me about Tanya's research is the fact that real people are involved ... versus mice, rats, monkeys etc.
A very valid concern indeed.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:The mind altering drugs found in our food chain, water supply, good health additives, vaccinations and so on.

Fruit of enormous capital investment ... coupled with enormous human intellect can hardly be called accident.

What may be an accident ... or the law of unintentional consequences ... is overlooking the fact that there is a kernel of truth in all religions/spirituality. This kernel of truth may come back to bite them in the ass. :D
This is definitely not accident in hindsight and is increasingly getting easier and easier to tell of effects in future circumstances. It is getting harder and harder to blame "the law of unintentional consequences" and we should be thinking about all of this. We as a race need to be realistic about the future and we still have a long way to go. The public needs to be more interested in those they place their lives in the hands of. Can we really afford to blindly trust medicine? No we have seen enough evidence of this to start asking questions like: Yes doctor but do you know how this is going to affect my future?

Nothing is as it seems and nothing is a simple as I put it but at least there are more words for people to consider.

I am amazed that we still use prozac - another example of closed minds!

:D

As you say though - you can not live your life in fear. Fear the closed minds I do not.
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