Do we have the capacity to empathize with those unlike ourselves, or must we adopt a rational compassion, which trusts reason to be the proper guide for right actions?
In the eighteenth century, Adam Smith argued that the basis of morality was our capacity to “change places in our imagination with the sufferer.” But recent philosophers have warned us that empathy is a dangerous emotional force that draws us towards identifying with the suffering of particular individuals while we blithely ignore the plight of distant strangers or people outside our ‘tribe’. Reason and objective judgement about how to do the most good for the most people, not a self-focused empathy, must be our primary moral guide. Our speakers will address us for 15 minutes following 5pm Evensong at the King’s College Chapel.
Kirsten Pinto Gfroerer is a pastoral associate and parish theologian for St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has also served as the Director of The Ecclesial University Project in partnership with Wycliffe College, Toronto and St. John’s College in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Kirsten completed an MA in Counselling Psychology engaging the work of Martin Buber in 2001 and an MRes in Philosophical Theology under Professor John Milbank out of Nottingham University in 2010. The focus of her work was the Theological Vision of Charles Williams. Her passion is the development of communities of virtue whose aim is the adoration of God through the life of liturgical worship, the practice of Christian Vocations, the study of the scriptures, and the pursuit of Truth in all realms of life.
18 January: Dr. Francoise Baylis
25 January: Kirsten Pinto Gfroerer
1 February: The Rev’d Justin Fletcher
8 February: Kieva Diamond
15 February: The Rev’d Chris Kelly
5pm, Wednesdays beginning January 18
University of King’s College Chapel
6350 Coburg Road
902 422 1272
Full speaker bios, supplementary reading, audio recordings of the talks, and more available at www.kingschapel.ca/empathywars