What is empathy? What does empathy mean?
Empathy is what we experience when we feel other people’s pain or joy—it is our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and understand and share what they are feeling.
Historically, some scientists have tried to answer the question ‘what is empathy?’ by arguing that empathy is an ability that humans evolved in order to be able to predict other people’s actions, so that we would come out ‘ahead’ in social situations—in other words they argued it was essentially a selfish trait.
Recently though, new science has emerged which suggests that empathy is a remnant of our extremely sensitive, instinctive self that still exists within us from a time when our distant ancestors lived in a genuinely cooperative, selfless, loving state. This empathetic, all loving, instinctive self is what we know as our ‘soul’.
However, this cooperative past, and the empathetic, all loving orientation that became instinctive in us because of it, is a truth we couldn’t afford to admit until we found the clarifying, biological explanation for our current competitive, selfish and aggressive state—a state that is at odds with an empathetic awareness.
According to biologist Jeremy Griffith:
“In short, before we could acknowledge the truth about our soul we had to explain the human condition—explain why the human race became corrupted, ‘fell from grace’, left the fabled ‘Garden of Eden’ of our original innocent state, or however else we like to describe the emergence of our present seemingly-highly-imperfect, soul-devastated condition.”
Most wonderfully, biology is now able to provide the full explanation of our angry and selfish behaviour, and with it the real answer to ‘what is empathy’. This comprehensive explanation of the origin of humanity’s upset state, namely the human condition, is available in this Introductory Video Series and Part 3 of Freedom: Expanded Book 1, by Jeremy Griffith.
With the explanation of our condition now available, we are able to see that we are suffering from an upset state, characterised by angry, alienated and egocentric behaviour that is the result of a two million year old, unavoidable clash between our gene-based instincts and our emerging nerve-based consciousness.
Now, after some two million years, this upset state has all but buried our true capacity for empathy, although it still exists in us to some degree. Finally, now that we have the real defence for our divisive behaviour, our upset can at last subside, and our empathy will be allowed to flower again.
Professor Harry Prosen, is a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and has spent a career researching empathy, commends Griffith's explanation, saying, ‘I have no doubt this biological explanation of Jeremy Griffith’s of the human condition is the holy grail of insight we have sought for the psychological rehabilitation of the human race.’