Why do we feel empathy with non-humans? but not too much

Here’s an interesting article – or at least, an article about an interesting idea – it is rather long and intense: why do we feel empathy with non-humans?  Last summer I went to see “War Horse” in London and was amazed by how the large wooden framed puppets became ‘real’ for the audience very soon after they came on stage. Their movements were made very realistic by the puppeteers inside and holding the ‘bridles’ that controlled the heads, and they also had eyes that somehow seemed liquid like real animal eyes. Our imaginative perception allowed us to ‘see’ them as feeling animals or even feeling beings.

But there’s a twist – if the non-humans (or androids, as she calls them) get too similar to humans, some other emotion kicks in and we start to reject the empathy. This fits with the Goldilocks, or necessary distance, idea about empathy.  Movie makers using computer-generated characters have discovered this problem and responded by making them less convicing.  I am thinking about extending these ideas back into humans…

“Empathy and Dyspathy with Androids: Philosophical, Fictional and (Neuro-)Psychological Perspectives”, by Catrin Misslehorn

http://konturen.uoregon.edu/vol2_Misselhorn.html

 

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