The irrationality of disgust suggests it is unreliable as a source of moral insight. There may be good arguments against gay marriage, partial-birth abortions and human cloning, but the fact that some people find such acts to be disgusting should carry no weight.

— Paul Bloom

The most pioneering Paul Bloom quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening

Families survive the terrible twos because toddlers aren't strong enough to kill with their hands and aren't capable of using lethal weapons.

33

We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, have a positive effect on our long-term moods. The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.

19

Our best hope for the future [...] lies in an appreciation of the fact that, even if we don’t empathize with distant strangers, their lives have the same value as the lives of those we love.

9

A religion such as Judaism or Catholicism might survive even if it comes to reject a literal account of God creating man and animals. But it cannot survive the rejection of an immaterial soul.

5

When I write I'll sometimes say things which are somewhat controversial - not because I'm seeking out controversy for its own sake, but if I don't have anything to say which is different, why am I bothering to write stuff down in the first place?

4

Empty heads, cognitive science has taught us, learn nothing.

The powerful cultural and personal flexibility of our species is owed at least in part to our starting off so well-informed; we are good learners because we know what to pay attention to and what questions are the right ones to ask.

3

This enthusiasm [for empathy] may be misplaced.

Empathy has some unfortunate features – it is parochial, narrow-minded and innumerate. We’re often at our best when we’re smart enough not to rely on it.

3

My brother is severely autistic, so when I was a kid I spent a lot of time as a teenager in camps and programs for autistic kids. When I went to McGill as an undergraduate, I figured I'd be a therapist working with these kids. The truth is, and I knew this even back then, I'm just not good at this. I'm too empathic to do this sort of thing.

3

I love teaching. I wouldn't take a job that didn't include it.

1

The fact that something can be used for good isn't necessarily a knockdown argument for it.

0

I draw a lot from Buddhism, which focuses on compassion and kindness, loving kindness, as they call it, but rejects empathy because it's a poor moral guide. And I think there's a lot of evidence suggesting that they're right.

0

I think there's some evidence that when it comes to being a doctor or nurse, a police officer or therapist, that empathetic engagement leads to burn-out. Imagine if you're dealing with severely ill children, and you felt their pain all the time, and the pain of their parents - you wouldn't be able to do that job for very long. It would kill you.

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About Paul Bloom

Quotes 55 sayings
Profession Professor
Birthday October 16

Empathy zooms you in on an individual and, as a result, it's narrow, it's innumerate, it's racist, it's very biased.

0

It's hard to pull apart empathy from compassion.

What is really clear is that we innately care for other people at least to some extent.

0

It would be nice if everybody who had something interesting to say about my work could say it politely and civilly, but it doesn't work that way... Sometimes people are just really nasty.

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By “empathy,” some people mean everything that is good - compassion, kindness, warmth, love, being a mensch, changing the world - and I'm for all of those things. I'm not a monster.

0

My younger son told me nobody uses email anymore.

I'm this old fogie with my email. I don't know what I'm supposed to communicate with now - SnapChat?

0

Something as important and central and encompassing as empathy can't be all bad.

I think empathy plays a role in intimate relationships, where you might want your partner not just to care about you or understand you but to feel what you feel.

0

Because of empathy, we care more for, and devote far more resources to, someone who is familiar, from our country or our group, than a stranger.

0

I argue that we should be kind, we should be compassionate, and we should definitely be reasonable and rational, but that empathy leads us astray.

0

I kind of like social media, and I like hearing from people.

I don't like the ugly stuff, but there are some people - smart people - who have a very different perspective, and I'll get a backlash from them. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

0

I think empathy can serve as a moral spark, motivating us to do good things.

But anything can be a moral spark.

0

I think Americans are always going to care more about Americans than about Mexicans.

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People differ in where they direct their empathy and their compassion.

Many people are intensely concerned about the suffering of non-human animals, and some do not care at all. There are cultural differences.

0

I think we're going to care more about Americans than Africans.

I don't think that's ever going to go away, and I don't think it's ever going to go away that people care more about their families than strangers, and their communities over other communities. But I think it would transform the world in such a good way if we could just acknowledge, at least intellectually, that an African life and an American life are the same.

0

When people want to inspire you to turn against some group of people, they'll often use empathy.

0

When you start writing things to try to persuade someone who's not already part of your guild or your profession that something is interesting, it forces you to ask yourself, "Well, why is this interesting?"

0

In my own life, I do not live like an effective altruist.

An effective altruist would really disapprove of my life. I don't give enough to charity and I still have both my kidneys.

0

Philosophers have often looked for the defining feature of humans — language, rationality, culture, and so on. I'd stick with this: Man is the only animal that likes Tabasco sauce.

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Every president, Democratic or Republican, simply works on the supposition that it's better to keep jobs in America than let them go to Mexico.

0

I think we should really discourage this sort of empathic engagement when it comes to making moral decisions. I think we should focus on something like compassion, on getting people to care more for others without putting ourselves in their shoes.

0

Even the charities I give to are related to things that touch my life, like the Special Olympics. I'm not fully rational; I'm swayed by my biases and my emotions.

0

Some people think that without that spark of empathy we would do nothing, but that's just flat-out wrong. You could feel compassion for somebody without the spark of empathy.

0

I have two teenage sons, and they're both surviving, thriving, and having a great time, and they're always on social media.

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What I mean by "empathy" is putting yourself in other people's shoes, feeling what they feel.

0

The effects of Twitter and Facebook and all those things on people's psychologies is a really interesting question to which nobody knows the answer.

0

It has been a period where people have been far nicer to one another in every possible way. I'm not saying it's because we're dropping our empathy that we're nicer to each other, just that the drop doesn't seem to be causing any harm.

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Because of empathy, stories of the suffering of one person could lead us into a war that could kill millions of people.

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Stories turn anonymous strangers into people who matter.

0

I am never going to write about dogs again.

You can write about Islam, you can write about sexuality, but no, not dogs.

0

For the most part, people use "empathy" to mean everything good.

For instance, many medical schools have courses in empathy. But if you look at what they mean, they just want medical students to be nicer to their patients, to listen to them, to respect them, to understand them. What's not to like? If they were really teaching empathy, then I'd say there is a world of problems there.

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And empathy is narrow; it connects us to particular individuals, real or imagined, but is insensitive to numerical differences and statistical data.

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You might argue on utilitarian grounds that the best way for the world to work is for everybody to take care of themselves first. And people have made that argument. But I just think we would be so much better off if we could care for distant others even a little bit more.

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Individuals differ in how empathic they are.

Some people would really flinch if they watched me hitting my hand with a hammer, and other people would just not care.

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I'm not a pacifist. I think the suffering of innocent people can be a catalyst for moral action. But empathy puts too much weight on the scale in favor of war. Empathy can really lead to violence.

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I think if we could turn the dial a bit, and try to take what the philosopher Henry Sidgwick called "the point of view of the universe", and look from above, and realize that we are not special, none of us are, I think it would just cause a transformation.

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I'm very interested in why we do good things, or bad things, and where moral judgments come from.

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I think there's some evidence that we're empathic by nature.

There is some evidence from studies of babies and young children that they resonate with the pain of others, and there's some work by Frans de Waal that other primates also resonate with the pain of others.

0

We don't just respond to things as we see them, or feel them, or hear them.

Rather, our response is conditioned on our beliefs, about what they really are, what they came from, what they're made of, what their hidden nature is.

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