So yesterday I asked what makes us human. The question itself came from a discussion with my boyfriend about sociopaths. I find sociopathy to be highly intriguing for a number of reasons. I have been fascinated by it for a while, and am currently reading a book by a self-proclaimed sociopath on what it really means to be a sociopath. For more information about what exactly sociopathy is, or the book, check out the website created a few years ago by the author of the book I am reading.
The reason the question of humanness came up was because my boyfriend didn’t like my assertion that many sociopaths could be an evolutionary step higher than many “empaths” – those of use who feel empathy and other such emotions very strongly. In trying to argue against me he brought up the idea that empathy, and other emotions, are what make us human. I don’t really know what makes us human, and I’m not sure I fully agree with him, but I don’t really know.
Anyway, my general point is that overall empathy does more harm than good. Thinking about decisions we’ve made in the past. Has there ever been a time when you’ve stopped yourself and said “damn, if only I hadn’t rationally and logically thought through my decision”? I’m guessing not; I know that’s never been the case for me.
But what about the reverse? Have you ever found yourself frustrated at a decision wishing you hadn’t acted so rashly based on an emotional response to a situation?
A concern people often express when I bring up this argument is society: how can someone follow the law if they have no empathy, no morals? A lack of empathy does not preclude the following of the social order. In fact, keeping the social order is in one’s own self-interest. I don’t have to care about how my murdering someone else is going to make others feel. I only have to care about the consequences to myself if the social order were not kept and if I were to be caught breaking the law.
One does not need empathy to follow the law, one only needs self-interest.
As an aside, this is not me coming out and saying I’m a sociopath. I am most definitely not. I feel far too much empathy and guilt on many occasions. I have found myself wondering if it would be better if we didn’t feel these things.
If we all made decisions based on logic and reason, would that not have a better outcome in the majority of situations?
I realize this is an unpopular position. When I have brought it up I am told that I am inherently wrong in this view, but no one can ever give me a reason that does not rely on their own emotional reaction to the idea of a person who does not have empathy.