Apart from some possible genetic abnormalities or unusual clusters of genes (psychopathy; schizoid or avoidant perswonalities; schizophrenias are possible examples), compassion and empathy is to me a learned trait. Absent parents or other adults in regular and close contact with the child, a Lord of the Flies is a likely result. Absent sufficient wealth and stability in a society, then sociopathy is a survival trait. Ultimately, compassion and empathy are distinct survival traits, in an environment that both engenders and reinforces it.
There’s a phenomena called “epigenetic,” which holds that some behaviors in order to be expressed must have both the genetic foundation plus evoking environmental stimuli. Absent either, no expression.
A kid might be temperamentally quickly reactive to stimuli, and inclined as a result to be shy and fearful, but if raised in a protecting, quiet environment the kid expresses little if any of that behavior; if raised in a noisy and unprotected world, may be a basket-case. I suspect the same is true of compassion and empathy; absent the genetic foundation or the training, it does not happen.
Much as we here often criticize religion, that has been a major social influence in reinforcing at least conditional compassion and empathy –provided the person is the “right” class, religion, gender, politics or ethnicity. I do not, as a result, castigate all religious text, some of it and its practice has been admirable. Not because it implies a deity, but because there’s some great precepts in it, as there are in other works by human beings. The deity bit is just organizational self-serving rhetoric by churches to try and make the messages more accepted or less rejected.
Socioeconomic status (SES) is a good predictor of compassion and empathy. No person by virtue of membership at some point in SES is thereby imbued with virtue, or lack of it, but given that such behavior is only a probability, the chances are skewed toward SES 1,2,3, and 4, with 5 producing by far the highest rate and incidence of no-empathetic and non-compassionate behavior. That’s why by far most of the people incarcerated for vicious, violent crimes come from class 5, which is only maybe 18% of the population. Being poor and ignorant is only “noble” if that claim is made by some Cleric trying to justify and maintain the “social order,” in which he is not at the bottom.
The first two sentences of this post contain my main point.
[quote author=“Denis Campbell”]Much as we here often criticize religion, that has been a major social influence in reinforcing at least conditional compassion and empathy –provided the person is the “right” class, religion, gender, politics or ethnicity. I do not, as a result, castigate all religious text, some of it and its practice has been admirable.
I criticize religion not for reinforcing compation and empathy but for the development of the concept of “exclusive right” from heaven. Is ok to teach morality compation and empathy, but to say I have the God’s way and this is the only way. That opens a big can of worms….
Suggest religious scripture can be separated from “it comes from on high” message. People wrote it, sometimes brilliant people who’re wise. They also shat and pissed like most humans.
[quote author=“Denis Campbell”]Suggest religious scripture can be separated from “it comes from on high” message.
So many religious books, Is it the message that changes or is the interpreter of the message what makes it confusing, or is in my whishful thinking that this message which I believe is great, It must come from a Supreme Being and I and the rest of the world from now on we should be the faithful servants of this believe.
[quote author=“Albert Einsten”]The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Dont you think is time to listen to those with the sacred gift of the intuitive mind?