5 Comments
Jan 2Liked by Paul Bloom

Can’t agree more. And there’s nothing more alienating than a thoughtless “I know just how you feel”.

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>how arrogant we can be about our capacity for empathy, by how quick we are to say “I know just how you feel”.

This is really important. I was well into adulthood when I realized how terrible it was to say that. Sorry to everyone I said this to in the past.

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Interesting points. I continue to appreciate the humility inherent in your writing (displayed mostly as uncertainty, I suppose). VR and books, like language itself, are of course only pointers to the thing, not the thing itself. Confusing the two can lead intelligent people to believe foolish things, mostly about themselves.

Maybe I should add that I’m not sure about that;)

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Brilliant! And I'm very much enjoying your book Psyche.

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Great article. I write about intimacy in romantic partnership and so I often think about how technology impacts intimacy (substitute empathy in your piece here). I completely agree...while I'm no expert on VR (never done it and not yet researched it), it strikes me as loosely falling into the category of "personal entertainment" whether it's literally used for gaming or to have experiences that we choose /want to have for a limited duration, as you so aptly pointed out. Not only does this mask as true empathy when it's not, but it also doesn't lead to true intimacy. What is the nature of intimacy (a question I'm, in part, exploring in my doctoral research)? Must it be with another? If not, then I suppose VR with a pretend person can qualify as intimate. But frankly, I don't prefer a world in which VR or AI *allows* us to replace live human-to-human connection with virtual/artificial empathy or intimacy.

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