Leah Kaminsky’s debut novel, The Waiting Room, depicts one fateful day in the life of an Australian doctor and mother, Dina, living in Haifa, Israel. Dina is trying to maintain normalcy as she goes about her work as a family doctor, cares for her son, and fights to preserve her faltering relationship with her husband, with whom she’s expecting a daughter....more
Posts Tagged: empathy
Maybe growing up with a father who was a Jehovah’s Witness caused Charlyn Marie “Chan” Marshall to develop a sensitivity to the plight of the unlucky and underprivileged. Then again, Marshall, who is widely known by her stage name Cat Power, might also have an artist’s innate empathy and receptiveness to others’ pain—something that we, as a nation, could stand to develop ourselves....more
Last year physicist Stephen Hawking suggested that advanced artificial intelligence, or AI, could lead to the end of humanity. How are scientists working on this issue? Teaching robots empathy with books! Newsweek reports on the Quixote system, which teaches AI a human sense of right and wrong....more
Harper’s Magazine interviews Leslie Jamison about her debut, home-run collection of essays, The Empathy Exams: Essays. On the complications (and yet! necessity) of empathy, Jamison writes:
So there’s a lot of danger attached to empathy: it might be self-serving or self-absorbed; it might lead our moral reasoning astray, or supplant moral reasoning entirely.
A degree in English may make your job search harder, but it makes empathy and social interaction easier, according to a study conducted by some people who had more practical majors.
The study, published in Science, found that literary fiction like Dostoevsky or Louise Erdrich enhanced subjects’ ability to read others’ emotions more than did popular fiction or “nonfiction that was well-written, but not literary or about people.”
Erdrich’s take on the matter: “This is why I love science….[They] found a way to prove true the intangible benefits of literary fiction….Thank God the research didn’t find that novels increased tooth decay or blocked up your arteries.”...more
“The book review page is an odd cultural territory, often inhabited by such hybrid creatures — unlike their contemporaries in other disciplines, where the lines between critic and artist are more pronounced.”
All readers are book critics, but disseminating literary opinions to the masses is only part of the job description for some of us....more
A few weeks ago, I went to a dermatologist to have something on my nose removed. He said less than two sentences to me, asked me one question he didn’t listen to the answer to, ignored my protests, had a nurse hold me down, stuck a large needle in my nose with no warning, and then dug the thing out with a scalpel even though the anesthesia was barely working....more