Sunday, June 12, 2022

"The Space Between"

New from Oxford University Press: The Space Between: How Empathy Really Works by Heidi L. Maibom.

About the book, from the publisher:

When Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, his comments that a judge should have "the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay, disabled, or old" caused a furor. Objective, reasoned, and impartial judgment were to be replaced by partiality, sentiment, and bias, critics feared. This concern about empathy has since been voiced not just by conservative critics, but by academics and public figures. In The Space Between, Heidi Maibom combines results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to argue that rather than making us more biased or partial, empathy makes us more impartial and more objective.

The problem is that we don't see the world objectively in the first place, Maibom explains. We see it in terms of how we are placed in it: as an extension of our interests, capabilities, and relationships. This is a perspective and it determines what we pay attention to, how we interpret events, and what matters to us individually. It is not private, however. By means of the imagination, Maibom contends, we can place ourselves in another person's web interests, capabilities, and relationships and, viewing the world from there, experience a new way of interpreting and valuing what happens. This broadens and deepens our understanding of others and the world around us. It also helps us understand the greater reality of who we are ourselves.

Maibom's book weaves together results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to provide a positive up-to-date view of what it really means to take another person's perspective, and how empathy, rather than being the enemy of objectivity, is the foundation of it.
Visit Heidi L. Maibom's website.

--Marshal Zeringue