- Apr 23, 2018
Well in particular it allows us to understand how others suffer. By feeling empathy we come to treat people as we would like to be treated. In the case of someone who kills, though obviously we aren't going to judge such an action to be right, by understanding the trauma that person has been through which led them to such a point (if that is the case) then we might understand that there are extenuating circumstances and not punish them so harshly as if that were not the case.How does that empathy make you a more moral person though? It just means you can understand someone’s situation...it doesn’t mean that it makes is moral situation. You can still walk a mile in someone’s shoes and think they did the wrong thing.
Christianity says that murder is wrong..knowing the murderers background doesn’t make it right Or moral. Christianity says lying is wrong..knowing people who lie all the time doesn’t make it right or moral.
But empathy is not just about cases like this. There are many instances in life where we humans can be judgemental with our fellow beings, condemning them for their flaws (without noticing our own flaws) and blaming things on them. Through empathy we can come to understand that were we in a similar situation we might also develop the same flaws. It's easy to be like "oh they could have done that" or "oh they could have done this", it is more difficult to really try to understand what another person's experience of life is like for them, in their subjective experience, rather than looking from our outside perspective and thinking we know them and have the wisdom to judge.
Such feeling for one's fellow human beings is the primary cause of "treating others as we would wish to be treated". We should cultivate it.