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Book review: The Age of Empathy, by Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal is a primatologist and ethologist at Emory University. In The Age of Empathy, he argues that empathy is an inherent biological trait, not only for humans, but for other species as well. Due to this, he wants humans to accept this and start treating your fellow beings with dignity and respect.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The introduction can come off as anti-capitalist, but de Waal clarifies what he means later in the book. He is from Europe and has lived in the United States for a long time so he has witnessed the benefits and drawbacks of both economic systems. If pressed, he said that he would have a difficult time choosing which he prefers more. More inequity but more wealth overall and more of an incentive-driven system (United States), versus less inequity, fewer poor but less of an incentive-driven system (Europe).

I think the book brings up a few interesting ideas:

Is empathy involuntary or voluntary?
de Waal argues that it is involuntary and built into our evolut…