Paul Bloom

For the last couple of years, when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I say that I’m writing a book. They ask for details and I tell them, “It’s about empathy.” They tend to smile and nod when I say the word, and then I add: “I’m against it.”
This usually gets a laugh. I was surprised at this response at first, but I’ve learned that being against empathy is like being against kittens—a view considered so outlandish that it can’t be serious. It’s certainly a position that’s easy to misunderstand. So I’ll be clear from the start: I am not against morality, compassion, kindness, love, being a good neighbor, being a mensch, and doing the right thing. Actually, I’m writing this book because I’m for all those things. I want to make the world a better place. I’ve just come to believe that relying on empathy is the wrong way to do it.
One reason why being against empathy is so shocking is that people often assume that empathy is an absolute good. You can never be too rich or too thin … or too empathic.

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