Sunday, December 20, 2009

Greed is out, Empathy is in

When people do evil things, such as when they commit
genocides in Bosnia or Rwanda, we call them "animals." If
people do altruistic things, such as when they save another's
life or give generously to the poor, we attribute this to our
noble human morality. We call them "humane."

Based on his fieldwork and research on chimpanzees, bonobos, and capuchins Doctor Frans de Wall
said - "many animals are predisposed to take care of one another and come to other beings aid. Their strong similarity to human biology suggests that every person is destined to care for others.

"To effectively learn from others, apes need to see an actual fellow ape: Imitation requires identification with a body of flesh and blood. Recently we are beginning to realize how much human and animal cognition runs via the body. The body produces internal sensations and communicates with other bodies that construct social connections and an appreciation of the surrounding reality." - Waal stated.

Empathy is an automatic response, as old as mammalian maternal care. Mothers and children play games of clapping each other’s hands following a certain rhythm. These games involve imitating the other and synchronization among the two.

We are far from being isolated , indeed we are strongly interconnected, trough our bodies and emotions at a very high level. This might sound odd in the West, with it's tradition of individuality. Nevertheless Homo sapiens tends to be easily swayed in one emotional direction or another depending on his peers.

Waal thinks - "humans can be described as animals that need to work to keep selfish and aggressive urges under control, but also as animals that can engage in cooperative work. They are among the most aggressive primates, but they can also relate to each other properly. Many economists and politicians model human society based on the aggressive instincts mentioned before, even dough survival through cooperation is a frequent scenery. This suggests that there is a long evolutionary history of compromise and peaceful coexistence. It seems empathy is part of the survival package; human society depends on it as much as animal communities".

"The way our bodies—including mood, posture, and so on—are influenced by surrounding bodies is one of the mysteries of human existence. It’s also one of the most underestimated phenomena, especially in disciplines that consider humans as rational decision makers. Rather than individually weighing the pros and cons of our own actions, we occupy nodes within a tight network that connects all of us in both body and mind ". - Concluded Waal.


JanetK said...

I am sure that the biological differences between humans and other intelligent, social mammals are very small and are differences in degree rather than kind (quantitative not qualitative). But such small differences give us language and culture and all the other 'human' things. Very small things can grow into very large ones. It is not that we have empathy and no other animals do but that our empathy passes a threshold that allows massive cooperation and trust. Of course it also allows some nasty things too.

aditya said...

Heyy Mariana

I really like the About Me in your profile : Are we a generation of thinkers who do not know how to think?

Coz that is what most of us have/had been over the period of time. The world of the present is a witness to this. Each of us, in the past, picked up the paintbrush and painted the world .. how he/she wanted to see it. And here is the result. A lot of values .. which were meant to be snubbed and instead which now dictate us, morally and socially.

Yes .. what ever you talk of .. empathy, selflessness et al. Is there a truly selfless act?? Does it really exist?? I disagree.

Mariana Soffer said...

It is very interesting what you say about small degrees they can make hughe differences, for example you can compare the genome of one person to the one of another and they must be more than 99.9 percent identicall (or at least a very high percentage) but nevertheless those humans can have huge differences.
I agree that our degree of empathy must be higher than the one animals have, specially because we have higher cognitive habilities that allow us to imagine or infer more stuf.

Thanks a lot for sharing your insights

Mariana Soffer said...


I am happy you like it, I do love it, I think I wont change that sentence ever.

Well I guess we could never prevent what will our actions produce in the future, specially because we do not try to infer the result of the combination of many things, mostly we infer the effects of one factor at a time, which is much more simple indeed.

Maybe there is not, I am not sure, but what I hope is that people would help each other more wether or not they are taking some advantage of it.

Thanks a lot my friend for stepping in

ines,gato@yahoo,com said...

Are mirror neurons related to empathy?

Mariana Soffer said...


The discovery of mirror neurons in the frontal lobes of macaques and their implications for human brain evolution is one of the most important findings of neuroscience in the last decade. Mirror neurons are active when the monkeys perform certain tasks, but they also fire when the monkeys watch someone else perform the same specific task. There is evidence that a similar observation/action matching system exists in humans.
This allows beings to identify with each other which allows them to be empatic.

guille said...

What do scientist think about animals capability for empathy?

Mariana Soffer said...


By studying social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution, Frans de Waal demonstrates that animals–and humans–are "preprogrammed to reach out." He has found that chimpanzees care for mates that are wounded by leopards, elephants offer "reassuring rumbles" to youngsters in distress, and dolphins support sick companions near the water's surface to prevent them from drowning.

Shadow said...

i'd hate to see where this world would be without empathy....

the walking man said...

Interesting thought that we need to see the body in whatever emotional state it is in for us to be empathetical to that state. I would agree though I would use different terminology that we are animals and animals share a certain characteristic of soul.

Jenny said...

Hi Mariana,

I also think that we are animals and that a peaceful anti-violent existance is something to strive after.

Aggression is not a bad thing in itself, I think. It can function as fuel for creativity, energy, change and innovation.

In Sweden there is a general tendency to deny aggression all together. I think that is dangerous; it is a kind of oppression that will result in fucked-up behavior. As long as anger does not result in violence, I think it plays an important role.

Thanks for this thought provoking text!


Charles Gramlich said...

If you look long enough at nature you can usually see reflections of just about every human behavior.

leo said...

Maybe the diet has some relation with the agressivity, most apes and chimps are vegetarians.....


girlontape said...

elephants mourn their dead... dogs & dolphins save human lives... en fín: i stopped using the word "animal" or "bestia" to describe inhumane behavior a long time ago. I think it's a leftover from pre-modernity, when animals, slaves, women and children were considered as God-given property, with no or incomplete souls.

ArtSparker said...

Truth to tell, I've had occasion to think recently about how I high degree of empathy for someone else can lead to a sudden need to attack the other invested with the identification. Two -edged sword?

Anonymous said...

thoroughly perfect
post for this season

merry christmas, mariana,
however you celebrate it, and all best to you in the new year

× × ×


Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for stepping in my talented friend, to tell you the truth I do not wanna imagine either because I will be depressed at least for a year

Love and happy xmas

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man
I am really pleased that you find it interesting.
I think it is correct what you say, we are animals too, I guess with too much ego to call ourselves like that, I really like the words you used to describe that, "sharing similar characteristics of the soul" that is a great way to express it.

Thank a lot dear poet.

Mariana Soffer said...

Hi my dear.

I agree that we should strive for that, completelly.

I agree with your second paragraph, I just been with a friend who did project with prisoners in order to offer them options for releasing their aggression trough which among other benefits it gives them more chances of not going back to jail.

Interesting what you say about Sweden I did not know it, yes it is completelly dangerous that always ends up making things worst.
Well anger is one of our basic emotions, you can define it as: a very active with forceful emotional energy directed toward someone. It is usually triggered by some outward event which provokes a reaction. And believe it exists because it because it has a useful functionality, for example helping to humans survive in certain situations.

Thank you for stepping here and encourage me to think.

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich:
I liked what you say, it is interesting and poetic. But I am not sure if you refer to all living things except humans as nature or to a subgroup of it.

Thanks anyway for your beautiful words

Mariana Soffer said...

Nice to see you
Well I think it probably influences but I am not sure to what kind of effect you are refering to, I talk about the influence in aliments regarding depression a lot in my post about depression, you can check it out my discussion in the last part of the comments with mr J

Thanks for stepping by

Mariana Soffer said...


Very nice and true your description of some animal behaviors. It is great that you stopped using those words for that, I guess that shows you are a writer and you care for using precise words, besides being a sensible person.
Besides it is a nice theory that is a leftover from those times, I never thought about that, the other words you mention at least are not being used for that as much as before, but I guess with the word animal we had not evolved a single inch regarding its linguistic etymology.
By the way did you check what walking man said involving the soul, I think you might like it.
Kiss babe

with no or incomplete souls.

Mariana Soffer said...

Well I think your thought is really interesting, I belive it might reflect in actions the hate some humans have towards themselves, which might be pretty intense it is clear if you look what many people get to do to their own selves.
But I do not consider it a double edge sword, the problem here is lack of compassion, either for others or for the self.

Thanks for your interesting thoughts.

Mariana Soffer said...

My dear friend, always nice words come from your writings.
Thanks a lot for your wishes.
By the way I was talking yesterday with a new friend and something reminded me of you (maybe cause I am crazy)
you might be interested to check it out:

I sincerely hope that you have a fantastic next year.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the superior intellect of our species was operating on a collective and subconscious level when we created the need for gods and religion. Realizing the pit fall of individual intellectual growth is many times self worship and ego, the development of gods and religion provided a policing of those self deceptions and their isolating influence on human connectedness and caring. Hopefully one day we will be able to avoid the deceptive waters that make us drunk on our own accomplishments long enough to realize that one is nothing without the other. Hugs mariana for a post that will stay on my mind and heart for a while. Brilliant
Much Love to you

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for your beautiful comment. it moved me deeply.

I never thought that the need of god might have came from there.
But if it was like that it certainly became conscious and I think it also promoted the bad things you mentioned in humans.

Certainly that is the worst and more dangerous pit fall for us.

I certainly hope we could fully realize that. It is a wonderful desire.
Hugs for you to. And thank you very much for enriching my post (as always).

Uncle Tree said...

I wish you Merry Holidays, Mariana!
I'm happy to see that you're back on your feet again, and I hope all is well in that regard. We'll meet up again. I'm sure of it. My 'project' is coming to a close. Ho-ho-ho!

Take care of yourself now.
Luvz & hugz, Keith

EXSENO said...

I really enjoyed your post.
It also gave me food for thought.
Are we really the most intellegent species. Maybe that is just what we think of ourselves. While other animal species see us only as preditors.
Many animal species live in communities that we call groups or herds. They take care of each other, look out for each other and some smart enough to even store food for the winter.
Maybe we are not the most intellegent, maybe we are just as we think of them--different?

Anonymous said...



fantastic works! thank you!

× × ×


Snowbrush said...

I rather thought as much. The implications remind me of B.J. Skinner's work a little. If Val is right about the source of god-belief, it is surely an experiment that went woefully wrong.

girlontape said...

re. ArtSparker's comment: i think there's a difference between empathy and identification.

Empathy = putting oneself in the other's shoes, seeing it from their pov, without losing one's own identity/ideas/self.

Identification sounds more like projecting one's ego/shadow side on the other. A loss of self, which could lead to hate if (false) expectations are thwarted.

Harlequin said...

this was a wonderful seasonal post... gets the thoughts and wonderings going
I was also reminded of the wonderful work of a few other authors... Lorenz ( especially The Waning of humaneness ), SJ Gould and John Livingston, who claimed that only two traits separated humans from animals: rationalization and deceit ( and he was intending those for the humans not the animals)
thanks for an intriguing post

Andy Coffey said...


As an armchair philosopher, I delight in my coworkers, big burly construction workers who delight in homoerotic repartee, to an extant that the worst jokes of my culture could hardly prejudice. And that's saying something in Indaina, Mariana. It's saying something.

Dude's just LOVE one another.

And it's fun to ask them, "So, I got a friend form South Korea who eats dog. Her Mama eats dog. Her grandma and sister eat dog. Her Daddy probably gets the best "dog part." I'll give you free reign as to what THAT is.

Just wonderin', if it means anything to you that Louis and Clark ate something like 500 dogs on their Voyage of Discovery. These are Thomas Jefferson's boys. The reason is that Dog tastes damn good. Way, way better than goat.

The reason I mention this is that there seems to be wonderful discussion as to whether Westerners can really continue to accept the murder of animals just so they can have fun with grandma. And let's be honest: it's peer pressure. Everyone knows the nearly vegetarian diet is good for you. We violate it because we want to be loved. Or are so clueless that we don't know even the basic outlines of nutrition science. Whatever.... most people in the world would never consider meat a cornerstone of their diet: they can't (and the world can't) afford it.
So what's my point?

The strongest force in the liberation of animals is simply the care and feeding of them. Most folks I know have simply never met a pig, that wasn't between their teeth. To them, "pig" is a taste. Not a being. The fact that a pig is as smart or smarter than a dog is merely an idea, until a pig lives in your house, as your pet. People don't know domesticated animals, except in terms of flavor, texture, and culture. To know them beyond that complicates the transaction. It isn't "humane."

Eating dogs is a wonderful source of human nutrition. We were built to eat Fido. The proof is in those cases in history when Dog was the only thing besides human to eat. Preferable to cannibalism, Dog is rather tender, tasty and wonderful. Louis and Clark, chose Dog (tens of Dogs) over semi-rotten salmon in the Pacific Northwest, offered to them by Salmon wealthy Indian tribes. Louis and Clarks favorite tribe were the Mandan of (I think) South Dakaota. Not only peaceful, the Mandan had lots of dogs to eat. The Mandan totally understood the useful dog. Good for the hunt, AND the table.
I love telling my South Korean female friends, "Never explain to a normal American your dietary habits, as the average American considers a dog more human than animal. I understand the difference for you, but even I would probably avoid dog, unless I found myself in total allegiance to your people."

aditya said...

@ Valbrussel

I absolutely agree. With you, Valbrussel. Same goes for the values in the present. We need to unturn the good of the present, same goes for the evil. Life is being dictated by the traditions of the past, most of which are nothing but utterly erroneous acts of rituals propagated down the chain of generations. Each of which savours the imparted set of rules, and the rigid mannerisms of thought. I feel the need to broaden the perspective, on morality and religion and god, here.

A good job Mariana, Merry Xmas too !!!!

ANNA-LYS said...

Good Yule Season, You empathic and sympathetic beautiful mind, Mariana!

Snowbrush said...

Andy "Louis and Clark, chose Dog (tens of Dogs) over semi-rotten salmon in the Pacific Northwest"

Where on earth did you get the idea that the salmon was semi-rotten? I live in the Pacific NW. The Indians here caught the salmon year round from the Columbia, which was the very river that Lewis and Clark were floating down. It is true that the expedition preferred meat to fish, but that was because it was composed mostly of heavy meat-eaters who ate little fish and didn't care for the very distinct taste of salmon.

Other expeditions too have eaten dogs, notably polar ones. Some killed their sled dogs, fed the meat to their remaining sled dogs, and, when they ran out of extra dogs, ate the remaining dogs themselves.

~pi said...

very interesting matter,,, empathy and the inner networks,

we can see - observe,

really interesting things on that matter of... shall we say, human misteries ? or not such misteries...

[ wish you a merry christmas,


beijo s


Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle tree

Thank you very much uncle, I also hope you have a Merry Xmas, indeed!

You are so sweet, worring about your niece, and getting happier when she gets better. I can tell you I think I am going to get getter and better (not that I am bad right now), I am learning important things that will help me not to fall.

Sorry I did not read your project, I started a couple of chapters indeed, but I did not feel I could really focus or connect, that was part of my mental issues I think. But I am going to print it all and read it at once like a book. By the way have you thought of making a book? I think it could be a nice thing, I can help you do that, I am helping my sister do hers indeed, I know how it is, I think it will be a great think for you to do that, and they end up being very cheep and well printed.

Love and Hugs

Mariana Soffer said...

I am happy you enjoyed the post and that it also stimulated your neurons.

Well is a great question the first one you make, indeed I am not sure about it. I have serious doubts, cause we defined the concept, we measure it, we made the rules at that respect. What I certainly doubt is that we are the wisest of all the beings.

It is true what you say about some animal species, and a good point to bring here. I think in that respect they might be even more intelligent than us.

Another thing your words made me think is why shuld we compare who is better, we know we are different, but why the need to compete?

To finish with I think there is a lot to say and research about what intelligence is. I think we should continue later on with it.

A pleasure beeing visited by you.

Mariana Soffer said...

Glad you like him, I think you should get in touch and do something, have you seen the book he published? it is a great one indeed

Mariana Soffer said...

Sure Skinner is related to this post, but not that directly. You know his main theory: "seeks to understand behavior as a function of environmental histories of reinforcing consequences."

Good comment about what val said, you are correct in that thought.

Thanks a lot for stepping in!

Fatima said...

Are you looking for understanding, I mean, about human behaviour?

Mariana Soffer said...

Clever words girlontape.
Somehow the 2 concepts are tightly related, I think that relation might be what we should re-think, redefine clearly. Because it can get confusing to write about them.

But maybe empathy can degenerate in identification, that might be what artspark is talking about indeed.

I think that identification could be a dangerous thing while empathy never is.

Thank stef I love discussing with you. You think deep

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot pal, makes me feel good to stimulate other people to think.

I agree that it relates to Lorenz book, here is a small review of it:
(a scientific and spititual view of how the humans evolved to become the frightened and violent and deceitful cariacature of their true nature. Humankind is experiencing "growing pains" that if seen and understood would change his inherited destructive attitudes for "solving problems" into truly humane solutions that would turn from a slow painful suicide to choices that will fulfill his potential and the destiny that is inherent in him.) This book gives insight into this beautiful process.

To tell you the truth I did not read the other guys, but they had an interesting theory. Made me think that deciet was only possible in beings who are capable or rationalization, what do you think?

Thanks a lot for understanding and contributing to this.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much! you are such a nice being! Have an excelent Xmas, enjoy the company of your people.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad you found it interesting.
Your words left me thinking, whether they are misteries or not, good question to ask to myself, I will think of it.
Thanks pi
feliz Natal mais um beijo pra voce.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am not sure, mainly I was trying to observe it, see patrons that repeat, but it might lead to the need to understand us. Why did you ask so?

Angela Recada said...

Fascinating topic. I've read some of de Wall's words before, as I believe he worked for a time here in Wisconsin at the University in Madison.

Happy holidays to you!

Mariana Soffer said...

angela Recada:
Thanks you very much for your compliment. He worked there really? interesting to know, did you went to university there? Seems to be an interesting.

Have cheerfull days with your loved ones my dear

Mariana Soffer said...

Andy Coffey:

Sorry that I am taking my time to answer your fascinating comment, I need my head to be in sync to take advantage of your words, It wil happen soon my friend.

Mariana Soffer said...


I am happy that you agree with her, she is an amazing woman, well you can tell. Also interesting your adding to her theory.
But most of all I completelly agree with the need of bradening our perspectives on morality and religion and god indeed, I would recomend you to read the blog of "Walking man" in blogspot, he has an intersting view on those things.

Thanks a lot Aditya!

Mariana Soffer said...

andy coffey

Sorry andy but I am not that versed in english literature, It takes me a while to understand
what you mean, but I like the challenge, please tell me if I miss.

Interesting analysis of workers, never ever thought about it, I would have related more to sex indeed?
I agree that peer preasure is strong, now I understand better what you meant before with the workers.

Very interesting your thought about pigs being just a taste, and dogs not. You reminded me of an old movie
I loved where the kids feed a turkey, who they get fond of, an in the festivities one of them suddenly realizes
it was him, and they all start to cry, can not remember the name of the movie, it was black and wite.

Nice tale about the dogs, I know a great one that happen in this country, a comunity of korean people
moved to a small town in this country, and after a short while all the dogs disapeared from the town,
they could not understand what was happening, till they realized koreans just ate them for supper. That
was a cultural crash I guess.

Wonderfull comment my friend, you are funny and interesting in what you tell

Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

I have fun reading your discussion with andy, I just wanted to say that anyway the worst of all would be eating food that was taken from your same species flesh, humans eating humans, that is what is really apolling.

Snowbrush said...

Mariana " I just wanted to say that anyway the worst of all would be eating food that was taken from your same species flesh, humans eating humans, that is what is really apolling."

All I know is what I see on nature documentaries. Apparently, a great many species don't hesitate for a moment to eat one of their own, and, of course, some spiders eat their mates, making divorce utterly unknown.

Mariana Soffer said...


I do watch them too, I like them a lot, but I think they tweak them to make them more apelling to audience.

Anyway it is completelly true what you say, Any meat-eating animal will eat the flesh of a dead member of its own species if it is starving, just as humans would (chehck the famous movie alive about the andes airplane accident). Also parents might eat their own eggs and also their already born child. What can I say. Not a nice sight.

But spiders strategy sounds interesting, sometimes I think I might envy them for living in a society where it is ok to do that.

TC said...


I love to rub up against your brain, this is empathy.

Empathy would be a great deity, were we allowed such things as great deities.

The apes of course have far more of it than do we.

But the tragedy of the apes is... us.

(Would ape "scientists" strip open people's skulls and put in wires for "experiments"?)

Still this sharing between us is a small island moment of empathy among humans, a moment stranded in the midst of the great sea of the ultimate Bought Situation -- the commercial "holiday" joke...

Let us then share our warmth as we may. I thank you for all your thought-provoking posts this year. I salute your tireless work, your mind, heart and soul. And send you abrazos and besitos,

Feliz Navidad!

Mariana Soffer said...

I would love you to rub my brain too, i think we could do it, not personally trough technology.
I think that the tragedy of us is us, exactely like the one apes have .
We do not know what would ape scientist do, wonderings about what if, can never lead us to a sure true (sadly), but my intuition tells me that they probably wont, for many reasons, too many to mention them here.
I did love what you say about our small island, I think it is true.
I am overwhelmed for the compliments, they did not make me blush dough; because they are so classy, I must have a refined reaction to refined thing.
I thank you for making me think as well, and also for the beautifull moments you made me spend reading your poems, they are good indeed!
Besitos y abracitos mi querido hombre bonito.

kj said...

mariana! a quick comment; i will be back this week:

you owe me nothing but your friendship and you have given me that!! we are friends!

okay? please?!

i hope you are celebrating today. merry christmas heart sister.



Uncle Tree said...

Good, good morning, Mariana! Merry it is. We're having a blizzard for Christmas. Isn't that wonderful? Whiter than white is winter blowing sublimely in four directions. Nothing looks more pure, and badly misguided at the same time.

Thank you for the offer, dear one. That was very nice of you. Yes, I have thought about it, but first, I'll have to end it. It's proving to be a more difficult endeavor than I imagined. Like Uncle Tree, the story continues to grow under quite the extreme conditions. Wrong place, wrong time, that sort of thing.

Besides that excuse, I'm broke. Funds are low, and I refuse to buy 'stuff' on credit. Otherwise, I'd probably take you up on that offer. Maybe someday, sweet niece. Maybe, some dreamily perfect day I'll win the lottery. Ho-ho!

Best wishes to you, my friend! And have a great day!

Luvz, --**TeNsE*L*TrEe**--

Mariana Soffer said...

Good to here that you will be back soon, take your time I am already hapy by getting reconnected with you.

Thanks you very much it means a lot what you say to me here.

I had a great xmas indeed, tell you later about it, but this makes it even better.

Big kiss

Mariana Soffer said...

uncl tree:
Sounds a fascinating view, for being insid your house, but it also seems like the weather is kind of disoriented, doubting where to go.

I know what you mean, I helped friends with the edition of a ficitional five hunderd page book, just keeping it coherent what a hughe task indeed. I helped him by pointing the inconsistencies and making some suggestions, because he wrote in a way that was too hard to read. I can help you with that too, if you think it might help it.

You are broke, i do not mind about it, besides you can make the book and sell it trough different sites, without even spending a nickle, and by the way we could buy 2 or 3 of them, it is just arround 6 bucks each, and you have your own work printed that is beautifull indeed. I will be more than happy to lend you or give you those books as a gift they are really cheap and I am doing much better with work and money.

Best whishes to you my dear uncle, we will keep talking about these things!

otin said...

So what you are really saying is that men are pigs!? lol!!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Mariana Soffer said...

Mostly(simplifying a little to much but that is OK for me), I also say they have material that allows them not to be always snorting.
you crack me up man!.

Merry Xmas and cheers

Uncle Tree said...

Giving feels good, and the giving of one's self in the service of another, without measure, is the highest ideal known to man. You are a very charitable person, Mariana, and I respect you immensely in that regard.

We will keep talking about it. Agreed! I'm not a very good judge. Besides that, I'm snow-blind. :)

Peace will be worth the wait. Father Time can only count to one, and then he starts over. When he gets to two, we'll be there(a minute joke). My second thoughts are fruity.

Hugz, Uncle Goofball

Klatuu o embuçado said...


Renee said...

Honestly Mariana you always write the most intersting things.

Merry Christmas dear heart.


Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree:
Thanks a lot dear uncle, I think we are in sync again, I am spending the hole day helping a friend who just got divorced/separated after a 16 year marriage. Complicated for him. But it feel good to be able to help him.

I think you can see well enough if you do an effort, if you try.

Nice words about time and peace, I agree, like and have fun with the poetry in that sentence. Thanks for it

Love you a lot dear uncle

Mariana Soffer said...

Klatuu o embuçado: Obrigado menino, eu gosto muito de sua salutatacion. Happy Xmas for you my friend.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much my dear, I love your honest sweetness. It always feels nice to read



A Cuban In London said...

Very good post, but I disagree on just the one point. In the same way that we're 'wired' to carry out acts of goodwill and empathise with fellow humans, we're also 'wired' to do the opposite. I refuse to call the former 'humane' and the latter 'animal' acts, to me they're both part of the human structure. Primo Levi's memoir springs to mind, for instance.

Thanks for such a brilliant post.

Greetings from London.

G-Man said...

Feliz Navidad Mariana...
Thanks for stopping by...Galen

Anonymous said...

I would love to see post-mortem brain studies of psychopaths / sociopaths. It seems to me these are people who have no guilt or empathy and cannot be "cured" or rehabilitated. There have been some very interesting studies on live subjects: questions that involve decisions around empathy cause their brains to light up the way neurologically normal subjects' brains light up when they are trying to work out a very hard math problem. It's like they are trying to figure out this "love" stuff, but they just don't get it.

Mariana Soffer said...

A Cuban In London:
Thanks for your intersting reflections my friend.
1. I am not so sure, or at least I hope we are not also wired to do the opposite, it might be a deviation.
2. I think you are right about refusing to call humane one and animal the other, it is not the best way of descriving it.

Thanks for pointing me to Levis, I have been reading about him thanks to your recomendation I liked what he said here, among other things.

" Levi imagines himself into a kangaroo. “Between his front paws,” he writes delightfully, was “that triangle of white flesh that kangaroos are so proud of.” But his real subject is the strangeness of human beings: “He crouched in his corner, and to pass the time he began to observe the guests closely, trying to imagine how they would behave, men and women, if they were being chased by a dog.” The kangaroo recognizes that these people belong to a species of weak jumpers, “but you can never tell, maybe they were good at other things.” What sorts of things? “Knall” and “Gladiators” depict a world of novel weapons and blood sports, and “One Night” a disturbing vision of fathomless rage, suggesting that we are especially given to violence. “Censorship in Bitinia” and “Bureau of Vital Statistics” claim that we have a penchant for bureaucratic dehumanization; “The Sorcerers” and “The Molecule’s Defiance” that we are defective gods who risk being mastered by our own technological creations.

Thanks a lot for your thoughts

Mariana Soffer said...

The G-man:
Iam really happy you stepped by, I think you do really interesting things in your blog, I like your style.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for making me feel so good, it influences me cause I really respect your things too.


Jason Gusmann said...

ah, mariana, thank you for giving hope at a deep level during this holiday season! hope the turn of the year brings you more wisdom to see the interconnectedness of it all - jason

Rick said...

de Walls postulate that "...many animals are predisposed to take care of one another and come to other beings aid. Their strong similarity to human biology suggests that every person is destined to care for others..." is interesting in it's myopia. Although I agree with his desire for harmony and productive cooperation, I'm curious why it is that he focuses on only this one side of the equation. It would be just as reasonable to focus only on negative animal behaviors and postulate the reverse. Does he deal with that in other parts of his writings? He seems a very thoughtful person so I hope that he does. Mariana can you point me towards some of his best work in this regard so that I can study it? And thank you as always for providing us all food for thought.

Anonymous said...

You write such interesting posts. It seems to me that this small thing called empathy is the root of the Arts.

Dave King said...

Very thought-provoking. Maybe other animals are ahead of us in understanding the concept of enlightened self-interest. Have a good new year.

Tom Bailey said...

I think this is the truth but there are always so many other variables that are involved. Isolating and measuring greed and empathy where other variables are equal is difficult and setting up working definitions is also hard.

Greed takes over when the greed becomes a need or a desire so strong that principals and values drop off.

This is a very interesting thought analysis.

Thank you for sharing!

Brilliant as always.

Tom Bailey

~otto~ said...

individuality is pretty common

loved this post

Ted Bagley said...

The Starbuck's version of empathy?

Mariana Soffer said...

Jason Gusmann

I really appreciate you words, they make me really good, they make a different to me, specially today that I am not so hopeful on humanity. I am glad there are people like you also, who can understand interconnectedness and things.

have an excellent new year pal!

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much for your lovely compliment. I think you said an amazingly wise think, I agree with it indeed, dough we should take some more time to expand the reasons, provide words that explain better why we link the concepts so it would be easier for people to understand what you are proposing here.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks dude, encouraging comments do help indeed!
What is up with individuality, are people blind? do they think they can attain happiness in isolation indeed? who knows dear Otto, I would love to get more insight about this.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley:
Showing a picture of a black guy that works, just like we do, we can feel empathy towards him, probably a distorted one, a misunderstood one transmitted by the media.

Mariana Soffer said...


Very interesting subject the one of the psychopaths / sociopaths. it is a great approach to study empathy. Do you have any study in mind right now?
I think fMri studies are still quite far from telling something interesting about this. But maybe sooner than we think. I think this guy has some interesting studies about them, but not preciselly about what you are wondering:

Thanks my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Very interesting question/reflection, what I found is a couple of articles that he did regarding it, so he does not only look it from one side, you can take a look at his work for example in this article:

Thanks a lot for making me thing about this, because I do not think you can just simply call this the opposite, I think it is more complicated than that, it is a different kind of behavior, close to the opposite but not exactly.

Mariana Soffer said...

Tom Bailey:
Thanks a lot for you encouraging and thought provoking words, I agree with you, as you can read in my comments before, that is not as simple as it seems. There is much more too it that we can see on the surface.


Mariana Soffer said...

Dave king:
You might be right, but we have to think of a way to get into their world their language, understand their communication and relations before we can address that point. Any idea about how, because I think they are probably ahead in several issues, and that we can learn from them.

Always great reflections my friends. You are a great thinkers, thanks for that.

human being said...


is a reed
but not able to breed

empathy is like
it's a holistic creed


Mariana Soffer said...

Human being

Geed is a weed
hard to erradicate
but possible indeed

a holistic aproach
must be followed
derived from empathy.

human being said...



but i tend to be kind toward bad habits too... that's why i said it's a 'reed'... perhaps we can direct it to the righteous path... then it can sing a song for us... and for itself...

each vessel carries a particular meaning...

greed can be (rhymes with) a reed or a weed... it depends on our perspective... hence our attitude...

it's all what pedagogy talks about...

love you

Tom Bailey said...

My viewpoint on greed is often strongly tied to a viewpoint like the one in the movie wall street where gordon gecko (michael douglas) gives a speach to a group of boardmembers of a company on greed. "greed is good". I think no study on greed would be complete without this cultural view of the definition of greed. Often life can exist in language and the meaning attached to it.

The common comparison that I always look at is eskimo's word for snow - there are said to be 70 words for snow.

Coming up with a good working definition for greed seems to be a key point.

Excellent thoughts as usual.

Mariana Soffer said...

Human being:
I misunderstood, one of the reasons is that I did not understand the meaning or reed properly. I thought It meant something else.

I understand much better what you said before, well I understand now.

And I guess as you say reed and weed are different because one represents an undersired thing, but it does not mean it can not be twisted and turned into a desired on, which helps indeed.

I was thinking about how we consider hardships in life, we can think about them just as a bad thing, or we can consider them lessons from where we can learn things that can help us lead a better life.

Pedagogy, somehow I do not understand the exact meaning of the world, I does not appeal to me, it might be just my ignorance anyway.


Mariana Soffer said...

Tom Bailey
An excelent movie, what a coincidence I have seen it recently, and I completelly agree that we need to consider that other view of it.
(sorry buy I do not understand what you mean by OFTEN LIFE ......TO IT)

Well I guess how many definitons you have in the different cultures of a certain word gives you information about the importance of that concept to that culture.

I think you got an important point there, a really one, proper definitions of greed, with not only just one englobing all kinds of it, but a particular one for each particular kind of it (there are many I think).
I checked arround and found more than 40 words that can be used as synonims to is,"longing" is one, which does not necesarry have to be a bad thing. Like Gecko says in his speach.

Thanks a lot for the compliment my friend! And feel free to add your thoughts to my humble comment

kj said...

ah, but greed hurts and empathy heals. isn't that scientifically proven somewhere?

maybe i just rely too much on karma. but i would rather be empathetic than greedy any day. and i'm guessing with a few cultural or abberant exceptions, i'm not alone.

love to you, mariana, it is so great to have you back.

Shirazi said...

So rightly said.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for visiting and let me say you have interesting blogs by the way.

Mariana Soffer said...

Amazing question, you left me thinking, I thought that if it is proven that people behave with themselves (judgmental, accepting, etc.) as they do with others then it must be right what you said. I can think of psychopaths dough, how are not that way, but I think most of us are anyway.

Lots of love one again

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful piece Mariana querida. It seems to level the idea that cooperative behavior (in humans) might be an ongoing 'evolvement'. Because if empathy in various other species is part of the survival instinct which includes emotion not of reason or intellect, then empathy in humans as contrasted with the potential for bringing 'intelligent' strength to bear
and powerful histories of massive struggles and wars etc, (as well as the questions of ethics and morality as politically defined,) the 'psychobiology' of the human could be understood perhaps at this time as an evolution in awareness (of the value of collective cooperation) and empathy as not just an emotion but an action has the sense of being life-preserving and therefore 'correct behavior'. I think an awareness of that idea automatically is civilizing.
But I am getting away from the point that animal and other species share intelligence equally with humankind though on different levels. Bats with infrared vision for instance. Mother cats who adopt and nurse puppies. Elephants who mourn at the loss of another. Living creatures who survive on the basic elementals. They don't need a stove or a refrigerator or a toilet.
Having thumbs for instance and a written language
we are both primate(animal) and intelligent. Cats and dogs don't have thumbs but certain others do, like monkeys. Now I'm getting off the track, excuse me. It is hard to put into words. But I think it means
that empathy is a very highly prized value and has
physical, psychological and spiritual relevance.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot tipota!
Well it is really interesting to compare how humans and animals function regarding empathy,
I bet they are different, remember we have more elaborate mechanisms, which are more likely to go ashtray than the animal ones, because they have a higher complexity I think.
I agree and like a lot what you say about awareness and civilizing.
Animals are wonderful and we have so much to learn from them, you can check lots of things
I say about them and also comparisons with us, I believe they are specially in reply to uncle tree's comment, scattered trough the different posts dough, I can compile them if you want me to later on.
Completely agree with the end, but I do not know exactly how you follow one from the other.
I also like what you say about animals, but for a more accurate and interesting description
regarding them you can check this out:
. Hope you enjoy that woman.
Wonder woman thanks