Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Myths And Empathy

There is a new book out called Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. It was recently reviewed in the Wall Street Journal. See Try a Little Tenderness. The excerpt that caught my eye was the following:

"Each [religious] tradition offers myths to teach us kindness and empathy. It doesn't matter much what myths one embraces, because, "at their best, all religious, philosophical, and ethical traditions are based on the principle of compassion.""
The review is critical of the book and I probably share the concerns of the reviewer. But economics comes in with discussions of how people behave in capitalism.

The neureconomist Paul Zak studies what goes on in our brains and how that is related to empathy. He ties this to Adam Smith's theories on sympathy. I have posted some items about this at my "Dangerous Economist" blog. See

Adam Smith vs. Ace Ventura (it has links to some good articles on neuroeconomics)

New Biography Of Adam Smith

Adam Smith vs. Muhammad Yunus

Adam Smith vs. Bart Simpson

Science Proves That Adam Smith Was Right Over 200 Years Ago (sort of)

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