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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.
Interviewer: Nigel Warburton
Producer: Kellen Quinn
Editor: Adam D’Arpino
Assistant Editor: Alyssa Pagano
Even in modern secular societies, belief in an afterlife persists. Why?
Nature and landscape
Take a serene hike through an ancient forest, inspired by a Miyazaki masterpiece
Design and fashion
The mundane becomes mesmerising in this deep dive into segmented displays
Tour the European architecture that dreamed of a wondrous, fictitious China
Trek alongside spiritual pilgrims on a treacherous journey across Pakistan
Thinkers and theories
Photographs offer a colonialist window to the past – one that must be challenged
Animals and humans
An artist and ants collaborate on an exhibit of ‘tiny Abstract Expressionist paintings’
How a curious question about colouring maps changed mathematics forever
Meaning and the good life
The world turns vivid, strange and philosophical for one plane crash survivor