The dark side of empathy – Yale Alumni Magazine

Who could be “Against Empathy”? Paul Bloom, that’s who. In a Boston Review essay by that title, the Yale psychology professor argues that “if you want to be good and do good, empathy is a poor guide.” Instead, he recommends compassion.


Some definitions are in order.

To empathize with someone, Bloom writes, “is to put yourself in her shoes, to feel her pain.” He distinguishes this “emotional empathy” from what he calls cognitive empathy—“the more coldblooded process of assessing what other people are thinking, their motivations, their plans, what they believe”—as well as from compassion, “a more distanced love and kindness and concern for others.”

By Carole Bass