Daily Bread for 2.16.23: Sympathy & Empathy

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of 29. Sunrise is 6:49 AM and sunset 5:28 PM for 10h 39m 03s  of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 19.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority is scheduled to meet at 5:30 PM

 On this day in 1978, the first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago).

We live in a time where one is urged, where everyone is urged, to be empathetic. Some of us were born in an earlier time, when there was a plain distinction between sympathy and empathy. Of that distinction: while to be sympathetic was to show concern for others, to be empathetic was to feel the feelings of others. Under this distinction, while one might have remorse even for an adversary’s misfortunes (accidents, illnesses, etc.), one would not feel an adversary’s feelings (of domination, bigotry, etc.). 

This useful distinction runs through this libertarian blogger’s outlook. One can and should have sympathy even for the reprehensible without sharing the cravings and appetites that make them reprehensible. (Empathy carries a burden; it’s no easy condition. It requires strength of mind.)

As it turns out, this distinction has been commonly abandoned. Some feel that expressing sympathy is condescending, and that a true sharing of others’ feelings is the proper expression of one’s humanity. Those who have abandoned sympathy for empathy on this ground are mistaken. One can care for others, even the malevolent, without sharing their dark thoughts.  

Some others, including many populists, have evidently abandoned the distinction between sympathy and empathy because they have neither. They luxuriate in the infliction of emotional or physical injury on others. Adam Serwer is right about these types: for them, Cruelty is the Point

To rationalize their conduct, or foolishly to trust them, is to place oneself at a disadvantage. Why these populists are the way they are matters less than recognizing their malevolence. 

This device corkscrews itself into the ground like a seed:

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7 months ago

Noteworthy distinction. Something that has been discussed in our home in occasion. While not peer reviewed – article linked below I would be curious to know your opinion.