Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

ORIGINAL

How empathy can change the world

5 minutes

Why we need to move empathy from personal emotion to collective moral concern

Empathy comes in two distinct forms: affective empathy is our instinct for mirroring the emotions of others, while cognitive empathy is our conscious ability to understand someone else’s perspective. In this instalment of Aeon In Sight, the British writer Roman Krznaric argues that empathy is a uniquely powerful – if often overlooked – tool for transforming and improving societies on a mass scale. Using it effectively, however, requires much more than affective empathy’s rush of emotions and reflexive reactions, to which the culture today seems particularly inclined. Rather, to get the most out of empathy, we must focus on widening our moral concern through cognitive empathy, finding ways to move from the personal to the collective.

Producer: Kellen Quinn

Interviewer: Nigel Warburton

Editor: Adam D’Arpino

Assistant Editor: Alyssa Pagano

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/History of Ideas
Gandhi the philosopher

Better known as the face of non-violent protest, Gandhi was also a surprising, subtle philosopher in the Stoic tradition

Richard Sorabji

Essay/Metaphysics
Changing faces

Face transplants expose deep-held prejudices about identity and wellbeing. Are these ideas ripe for a radical rethink?

Sharrona Pearl