Empathy and its Limits
2016, Assmann, Aleida, Detmers, Ines
Empathy has been rediscovered and reshaped since the year 2000 as a concept with great interdisciplinary potential in neuroscience, socio-biology, psychology and the humanities. It is generally acknowledged as a vital emotional and social resource in a world faced with the challenges of globalization and the limitations of an endangered ecosystem. Empathy might be a unique human endowment, but we still know very little about the circumstances under which it is aroused or blocked. With its focus on the 'limits of empathy', this book therefore analyzes not only the cultural contexts that account for the generating and fostering of empathy, but also focuses on its limits and the mechanisms that lead to its blocking. Complementary to the current research in the natural sciences that celebrates the quintessential human capacity for empathy, this study will look more closely into the precarious status of empathy, its unreliability and intentional withdrawal.