In the eighteenth century, the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau warned against ‘the universal desire for reputation’. And yet so often we seek to be admired by others, pursuing careers and lifestyles that offer the lures of social status. In this article in Psychology Today magazine, I put the idea of status under the spotlight, and ask whether [...]
The Ancient Greeks would have considered us modern creatures incredibly unsophisticated in the way we talk about love. We tend to use a single word to cover so many different kinds of relationships and emotions. On Valentine’s Day you may well whisper ‘I love you’ to your soulmate over a candlelit meal, but then the [...]
I was recently interviewed by philosopher Jules Evans, author of the bestselling Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations, as part of his project on the rise of the practical philosophy movement. The interview originally appeared on his website. Here it is in full. Roman Krznaric is the author of two popular books that came out this [...]
‘It was through books that I first realised there were other worlds beyond my own; first imagined what it might be like to be another person,’ wrote novelist Julian Barnes in a recent Guardian essay. It’s an enticing thought that reading fiction might help us escape the straitjacket of our egos and expand our moral [...]
Also posted in art, belief, empathy, empathy through education, empathy through experience, ethics, family, history, literature, love, religion
My new book How to Find Fulfilling Work is out today. About the book Part of a new series of guides to everyday living from The School of Life (edited by Alain de Botton), How to Find Fulfilling Work aims to help people navigate the labyrinth of career choices out there and to find a job that [...]
My new book, THE WONDERBOX: CURIOUS HISTORIES OF HOW TO LIVE (Profile Books), will be in bookshops from December 22 – just in time for a last-minute Christmas stocking filler. It’s about what the last three thousand years of human history can tell us about better living, and explores twelve universal topics, from work and love to [...]
Also posted in climate change, empathy through collaboration, empathy through conversation, empathy through education, empathy through experience, ethics, general, history, nature, religion, travel
There is an intriguing thesis at the heart of Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. The Harvard psychologist argues – contrary to popular opinion – that humankind has become progressively less violent over the past few thousand years. We might feel surrounded by terrorism, civil wars and gun crime today, but [...]
Peter Kropotkin was one of the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century, who managed to multi-task as a Russian prince, renowned geographer and revolutionary anarchist. In this interview with Phonic FM, a wonderful community radio station based in Exeter, I discuss how Kropotkin’s ideas about ‘mutual aid’ relate to my own work on empathy, and why Kropotkin is a prophet for the art of living in the twenty-first century. The interview lasts around 50 minutes.
To celebrate the Winter Solstice – or Christmas if that is your festival of choice – I invite you to read one of the most moving pieces of empathic fiction ever written. It is a short story by Ursula Le Guin, ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’, first published in 1973. Le Guin says she based her psychomyth parable on an idea from the philosopher William James where he imagined a world in which millions of people could be kept permanently happy on the single condition ‘that a certain lost soul on the far-off edge of things should lead a life of lonely torment’. Here is the story in full.
Just in case you missed it, yesterday – November 13 – was World Kindness Day. As part of the global festivities, I was interviewed in the latest issue of Psychologies Magazine about the relationship between kindness and empathy. As I point out, kindness is not without it’s problems:
‘It can sometimes be a little too easy to describe actions as “kind”. If a wealthy individual gives away some money to a charity, how valuable is their gift if it hasn’t involved much of a personal sacrifice?’
Also posted in ethics, interviews