At this event Jeremy Rifkin will talk about his latest book The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis. His book is a sweeping new interpretation of the history of civilization, that looks at the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development-and is likely to determine our fate as a species.
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Author and international security analyst Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed on The Crisis of Civilization. Dr Ahmed is author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and co-producer of The Crisis of Civilization.
J.D. Trout is a professor of philosophy at Loyola University Chicago, and an adjunct professor at the Parmly Sensory Sciences Institute. He writes on the nature of scientific and intellectual progress, as well as on the contribution that social science can make to human well-being. He is the author of Measuring the Intentional World, and co-author of Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment. His most recent book is The Empathy Gap: Building Bridges to the Good Life and the Good Society.
In this interview with D.J. Grothe, J. D Trout draws distinctions between empathy and sympathy. He talks about the "empathy gap," which is a set of natural, evolved limits on empathy, and how these limits negatively affect society, such as when people experience difficulties trying to empathize with others who are religiously, culturally or psychologically different from themselves. He talks about how the results of empathy can actually be crippling for an individual. He talks about how we should use new research in the social sciences to overcome the empathy gap. He explores if new social science questions the basic capitalistic assumptions of the American Dream and also calls into question basic philosophical concepts, such as free-will.
Bestselling author, political adviser and ‘social and ethical prophet’ Jeremy Rifkin visits the RSA to investigate the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.
Today we face unparalleled challenges in an energy-intensive and interconnected world that will demand an unprecedented level of mutual understanding among diverse peoples and nations. Do we have the capacity and collective will to come together in a way that will enable us to cope with the great challenges of our time? Rifkin argues that at the very core of the human story is the paradoxical relationship between empathy and entropy. At various times in history new energy regimes have converged with new communication revolutions, creating ever more complex societies that heightened empathic sensitivity and expanded human consciousness. But these increasingly complicated milieus require extensive energy use and speed us toward resource depletion.
The irony is that our growing empathic awareness has been made possible by an ever-greater consumption of the Earth’s resources, resulting in a dramatic deterioration of the health of the planet.
Rifkin challenges us to address what may be the most important question facing humanity today: Can we achieve global empathy in time to avoid the collapse of civilization and save the planet?
One of the most popular social thinkers of our time, Jeremy Rifkin is the bestselling author of The European Dream, The Hydrogen Economy¸ The End of Work, The Biotech Century, and The Age of Access. He is the president and founder of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington, D.C.
Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA
Suggested hashtag for Twitter users: #rsaempathy