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Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

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Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Squaredonutwheels » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:30 pm

So I was recommended by someone not on this forum, that literature with a focus on complex character development can aid in developing cognitive empathy and an understanding of what it means to be a person.

I'm not sure if it works but I'm trying it anyway. (So far it has been grueling reading the thoughts of various character types but I'm persisting despite not actually enjoying it very much)

There is a few posters who read a fair bit on here.

What are you thoughts on this?
What are some novels with characters you can relate to?
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:38 pm

In my reply I don't really give you what you want because most fiction can give you this and it depends on your current baseline but I think given the way you talk and think on the forum and maybe because of the way people think with this kind of antisocial orientation it may be a misreading or a going about it in the wrong way. I want to try to persuade you of thinking about it differently.

I used to bang on a lot about this before people got fed up with me. The idea is to build up an intuition and step away from dialectic reasoning essentially through setting data-points to map against. JOMP, you'll notice, advocates dialectics a lot but it's counter-intuition. This analysis and rigorous thought for understanding the world breaks down in this domain. I think it was Kant that said Reason turns against itself and Hegel mirrors the thought. Emotions are not unitary concepts. For something to be a unitary concept it needs one opposite but emotions vacillate internally between concepts and so it's so easily subject to scrutiny and nuance because they aren't universal (which is what reason is useful for teasing out).

This really comes about in 19th Century philosophy (with the tail-end being lead by Nietzsche, since we discussed him recently, but Wagner was involved too) and to demonstrate it alongside Enlightenment texts, they looked Plato's again and his Dialectics, realised that they never actually get anywhere. Somebody comes in like 'Hey Plato what's love' and they spend 9 and a half books arguing without ever coming up with a definition. Ironic as it is, Plato hates 'myth' which in Greek is what 'men say' but then ends with a myth of his own - The Myth of Er-- to make his conclusion and explicate what is.

The goal ought to be to read fictions and myths as non-conversive and non-analytic in that it's not concerned with abstract concepts like the idea of love or the idea of morality or the idea of pity or the idea of shame but instead thinking through individual stories. Rather than abstracting out you have to follow the movement of thought and emotion-- the flow of the inner world in specific people. What you're looking for is that actions and encounters follow a certain kind of necessity or appropriateness that is not reducible to a set of abstract specifications or logical terms.

A concrete example moving away from emotionality or inner worlds is a story of somebody who is clumsy spilling a glass of milk. That he's clumsy doesn't then predict that he would spill the milk (universal rule) but the story told and read in the right way shows that's the kind of thing that, though it might not happen to me, would happen to him. The connectedness of the events in this context is something logicians don't like in that you're giving an individual rule to a person like 'because this is the kind of person you are, this thing is going to happen to you (or you're going to feel this way) because it's necessary or appropriate.

In great fictions and mythos you're not looking for what strictly happens as a series of events but, given the kind of person you're reading about, what kind of thing will happen again and again. In a really great text, you won't be able to say by what property a character has that certain things will be felt or thought or happen to him, but you'll be pointed in the direction so that if you described him well enough you'd be able to tell what kind of things are appropriate or necessary given the circumstances they're in. You follow a narrative without the analytics for appropriateness and necessity which I think, haven spoken to some people here before about it, is something people do not do in their reading which is why they aren't picking up what the studies show as an increase in cognitive empathy.

-- Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:44 pm --

In general, the classic western cannon will give you want you need. Most the choices by Harold bloom in his cannon are chosen because of an ability of the author to expose another's perspective and the necessity of that kind of person acting and feeling a certain way in a given situation.
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Squaredonutwheels » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:22 pm

Thanks for that. I don't quite understand all of it because I lack the foundations of philosophy and only have a very shallow and patchy grasp but I found your post helpful.

You follow a narrative without the analytics for appropriateness and necessity which I think, haven spoken to some people here before about it, is something people do not do in their reading which is why they aren't picking up what the studies show as an increase in cognitive empathy.


I'll keep that in mind.

I'm trying to read fiction but whenever they go into he thought this and thinks this and that. It's kind of a real drag. But anyhow thanks for the point to the list.

I think I'll start with Miguel de Cervantes after I've finished the book I'm currently trying as I remember hearing about it.
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:46 pm

Cool. Don Quixote is a very good choice. Appropriate
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Squaredonutwheels » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:49 pm

Apparently it's about a deluded narc pairing up with a sociopath or something but they go around accidentally helping people?
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Dazz » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:12 pm

This is basically Don Quixote.

Image
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby solemnlysworn » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 pm

Yes to the deluded narc. Hilarious presentation unfolded showing the higher-horse and power-seeking versions of him. Not so sure about the sociopathy from his partner. There is some lying and deceit from his companion and some gambit/game playing but I think only greedy and revengeful. You'll have to read it else I'll spoil it. It's quite funny though.

In terms of character development, I suppose you get to at the story goes on the actual drivers of Don Quixote and get a peek beneath the mask. The beginning is just as funny though as you read him galavanting into situations like a Monty Python sketch.

-

With respect to the long post, apologies for all the philosophy stuff. I think I felt the need to establish two different kinds of knowledge and how one might go about achieving it and wanted to draw on things other than just my own opinion. Also was still rushing a little. Calmed down a bit now

-- Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:17 pm --

Dazz wrote:This is basically Don Quixote.



:D You've been thoroughly missed
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Squaredonutwheels » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:03 am

solemnlysworn wrote:With respect to the long post, apologies for all the philosophy stuff. I think I felt the need to establish two different kinds of knowledge and how one might go about achieving it and wanted to draw on things other than just my own opinion. Also was still rushing a little. Calmed down a bit now


No need to apologize. I enjoy reading it even though I don't have much to reply back as I am currently out of my depth. I read it again and I'm still perplexed. I don't get it. I feel like you're trying to get me to think differently but because I don't understand all the vocab, it's bouncing off and I'm still thinking in the same way and missing what you mean by different types of knowledge.
The idea is to build up an intuition and step away from dialectic reasoning essentially through setting data-points to map against.


I don't understand.
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby saucygirl31 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 3:16 pm

i think he is stressing the importance of being able to work through a scenario using different facts that we both know are true, stated by the author, and to build upon them by referencing multiple facts, as opposed to leaning one way verses another and sussing it out by moving back and forth between two binary points.
ur grill saucy.
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Re: Literature list to improve cognitive empathy

Postby Cassandre » Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:00 pm

Authors with consummate insight into psychology are able to bring to life more psychologically consistent characters. Because those characters are so psychologically robust,we can use them to map ours or other people's array of behaviors against, as if they are real persons.

But the psychology of the author matters too. Some authors have intentions: they want to make a point. Because they're only humans, their own impairments may tinge the psychology of their characters.

Tolstoy is said to be a fine psychologist. But he also had a somewhat dysfunctional intimate life, and could be overly spiritual. He sometimes bend the psychological arch of his characters to make them fit his Christian beliefs. In War and Peace, characters can be vessels for his conviction that life has no meaning besides the acceptance of the idea of universal love. For instance, Andrei let himself die out of depression but not before he had experience transforming empathy for an enemy during a battle. The character is allowed to die, but not before it served to illustrate Tolstoy's intuition strongly tinged with Christian beliefs.

So yes literature can be great to develop cognitive and emotional empathy with one caveat that sometimes authors instrumentalize character's psychology to support a subjective perspective.
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