The science of compassion

January 15th, 2010

The outpouring of aid and support for Haiti has been overwhelming.  It should make us wonder if we are somehow hardwired to be compassionate, empathic and altruistic.  Over the past year, amidst the financial crisis, the ideas of Ayn Rand and the supposed virtues of selfishness have gained new converts.  Yet more and more science tells us that compassion, far from being weak, is the very quality that has enabled the successful evolution of our species and will ultimately determine our fate.

The Greater Good Science Center, led by renown psychologist Dacher Keltner and based at UC Berkley, has been in the vanguard of this movement. The Center has, for the first time, published its writings in a new book entitled The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.  My conversation with Dacher Keltner:

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