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by on June 27, 2010

What  responsibility do we have toward the well-being of other people?  I don’t mean, what responsibility do we have to not act cruelly, but, what responsibility do we have to care about other people’s problems that are not directly our problems?  Why should we solve the problems of others?  If you have a politically long memory, which is hard to have in politics, the last time Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice there were ramblings about empathy.  Empathy means feeling within, or the ability to understand another’s needs, emotions, or actions.  A bad thing, for a judge, surely!

Among other reasons for solving problems that are not our own, we feel sorry for the person(s), and would not want the same to happen to us; and,we want there to be justice, and/or and a just solution; and, we must keep our own needs in mind, for while the problem did not begin as ours, we begin to care, and thus we absorb some of the problem; and, it is a rewarding experience to attempt to solve the problems of other people, because you feel you are doing an act of good; and many other reasons besides.

It’s no easy process, this empathy game (and it isn’t a game).  It is a constant struggle to care, and concurrently understand what we are caring about, and to try to solve the problem by inferring solutions.  We have to guess at the end-game, and guess at the process-game, all the while knowing what end we seek.

There are a lot of big words here.  Not multisyllabic nonsense to sound important, but big words, with great meaning.  Responsibility.  Empathy.  Inference.  Experience (not mentioned, but not insignificant).  These words have to do with our internal and external workings, our sensory data, and our perception of  the world.  They are quite important.

From → On the Dole

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