Varieties of Empathy

There has been a lot swirling around my head lately; some general themes include: foresight & hindsight, the evolution of the human capacity for change, aging, empathy, the very different implications & responsibilities inherent in dating as a father, and why my dog farts uncontrollably when my son plays with his toy helicopter (pronounced, and this is very important: “hellapocker”).

So I’ve been thinking too much to write, much less coherently. So I’m going to try and catch up a bit, right now.

Foresight & Hindsight

When I was really little, I had a book about Thomas Jefferson and the value of foresight. Although I’m not sure I fully grasped the concept at the time, it stuck with me. It’s something I consider to be a relative strength of mine. I can look ahead long-​term and see what the path I want to follow entails and act accordingly. I figure that the better and more practiced your foresight, the less it will differ from the 2020 of hindsight. I also figure that not very many people understand the value of foresight or are capable of it. Or, I’m an arrogant dick.

Capacity Changes & Aging

In terms of interest, life seems to be a progression from the general to the specific. A child is interested in everything (except a varied diet), an adolescent is interested mostly in the things they like, and in trying things they haven’t yet been able to do. An adult tends toward the enjoyment of things they have established as life-​long passions, and loses interest in trying new things. I’m speaking in grand generalities, here. Wrapping it all together with the following…

Empathy

I think empathy can encompass more than just sharing in another’s feelings; including aspects of foresight & reflection upon the capacity changes that aging brings about. As aggravating as it is to be an adolescent who feels patronized by “you’ll understand when you’re older”, what is seen as condescension is actually nostalgia for (and therefore empathy with) the feelings & capacities of adolescence & childhood. Foresight is a kind of preparational empathy or an empathy with a future self; I look ahead and in the act of judging possible outcomes, place myself in a certain positions and reverse engineer the best path to reach the place I want to end up.

Glad I’ve cleared that up for myself.