Empathy and literature? | BusinessWorld Online


MY FRIEND Ponchit (who lives in the US) called my attention to an interesting (recent) academic study that links the reading of literature to the capacity for empathy. Apparently, reading “serious” literature can enhance one’s ability to understand another person’s feelings and to view his (her) situation from his (her) perspective.If true, that would suggest that we can improve everyone’s social behavior — thereby making the world more “sociable” and less conflict-riddled — by insisting that everyone read Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Doubtless, Dostoevsky was referring to empathy when he wrote, “It takes something more than intelligence to act intelligently.”