Empathy Needs Centering
Nevertheless, we must not put the cart before the horse, as some leftists do, by making morality a matter of empathy apart from rules. Like shame and most other facets of our emotional lives, empathy must be cultivated by moral laws before it is of any use to ourselves or to our neighbors.
Like shame and most other facets of our emotional lives, empathy must be cultivated by moral laws.
A normal human being does not live in a constant fog of gray pity triggered equally by everything he encounters. We should not feel pity for everything, but for pitiable things. We should not feel sympathy for everyone, but for those who are sympathetic. Moral instruction, life experience, family, and so forth are all necessary to civilize our empathy so that we can make such distinctions well.
Examples of a feral empathy are not too difficult to find these days. On the more trivial end of things, last year a New York woman who was mugged for her cell phone managed to catch one of the young thieves after chasing him down. She was quickly condemned for her actions by one writer.