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Robert Wright: The evolution of compassion

posted Oct 19, 2010, 10:55 AM by Laura Spellman
This TED talk traced compassion from the beginnings of nature to his present. It was a very scientific approach to the theory of compassion. Although it wasn't the most inspiring TED talk I have listened to, it did make me pause and do some personal reflection around compassion. Robert Wright asserts that compassion is a genetic trait that is natural, however, it is mostly shown toward family and close friends. He also believes that compassion is selectively deployed. This is the part of the talk that made me think of my use of compassion. In my line of work, compassion is necessary and I do not believe I deploy compassion selectively. In my personal life it seems only natural to be more compassionate towards friends and family. Robert Wright would like humans to move toward expanding the moral imagination. He hopes humans can start to have more compassion towards others that we disagree with, that we may view as our "enemies", that we may not believe in their moral decisions. He ends the talk with the good news and the bad news. The good news is that compassion is built into human nature. The bad news is that it is deployed selectively.