Previously I’ve mentioned David Gross who’s written a long series of articles on virtues. It’s worth discovering his Notes on Empathy.

The basis of empathy is being able to see things from someone else’s point of view. Empathy lets us ‘walk a mile in another man’s shoes’, look at the world through the eyes of another, or any number of other now-clichéd phrases. But while that perspective-taking seems intimately tied to the emotion of the thing – you walk in someone’s shoes to feel their pain, look through their eyes to understand their feelings – it need not be. As recent research suggests, there are times when becoming too emotionally involved actually stifles our empathetic capacity.

~ Maria Konnikova from, https://aeon.co/essays/empathy-depends-on-a-cool-head-as-much-as-a-warm-heart

I wonder the ordering of the following shifts in my experience, and how these shifts influenced each other: The decrease in the frequency, duration, and intensity of anger I feel? The realization that the anger I was feeling was not—certainly not as often as I believed it was—righteous indignation, nor even true indignation? The understanding of what petulance is and feels like? The increasingly frequent experience of empathy and the emotional experiences it enables? The shift to experiencing frustrations (in the noun-sense that a door is a frustration to movement) as opportunities for further exploration, rather than as blockades and existential crises?


Understanding and compassion

Compassion. The best description (it’s right at the top) and discussion (continues for ~6,000 words) I’ve found is David Gross’s Notes on Compassion.

Empathy, a cycle of skills improvement, developing new attitudes and showing up in service often accompanies the careers of people who get from here to there.

Ambition is insufficient.

~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2023/07/goals-and-expectations/

There’s a reason the word “understanding” is before “compassion” in my mission. We each have limited resources, and we must be intentional (perhaps not entirely intentional, but certainly not entirely unintentional) with how we act based on compassion. I must first begin to understand myself. Then begin to understand the world, and that includes beginning to understand others.


On empathy

This was a particularly interesting (and difficult) post to research and write. There is a wealth of literature about empathy, and I found a lot of it surprising. I feel kind of like the kid who opened up the back of dad’s watch to see how it works and now is sitting amidst a cubic yard of springs and gears wondering how to put it all back together.

~ David Gross from, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/SMziBSCT9fiz5yG3L/notes-on-empathy


At 19,000 words and 77 minutes of reading, this is a small book. If you click through, you’ll quickly discover that it is also one of 50–or–so, similarly–sized “posts” by Gross on lesswrong.com. Fortunately, he didn’t let his “wondering how to put it all back together” stop him from taking it all apart. Entirely apart, dissected from every direction, and including diagrams.

Even if this topic, author, and specific linked-article aren’t of interest, I encourage you to click over to Lesswrong. It is a magnificent web site, beautifully simple to behold, and easy to read for hours on end. It is one of the very few websites on the Internet that I don’t instinctively glip to my browser’s show-reader-view. Lesswrong is jammed full of useful features for a reader. Lesswrong is quite literally what Wikipedia should be in terms of user experience and appearance.