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The Mirror-Neuron Paradox: How Far is Sympathy from Compassion, Indulgence, and Adulation?

  • Khalil, Elias

The mirror-neuron system (MNS) becomes instigated when the spectator empathizes with the principal’s intention. MNS also involves imitation, where empathy is irrelevant. While the former may attenuate the principal’s emotion, the latter paradoxically reinforces it. This paper proposes a solution of the contradictory attenuation/reinforcement functions of fellow-feeling by distinguishing two axes: “rationality axis” concerns whether the action is efficient or suboptimal; “intentionality axis” concerns whether the intention is “wellbeing” or “evil.” The solution shows how group solidarity differs from altruism and fairness; how revulsion differs from squeamishness; how malevolence differs from selfishness; and how racial hatred differs from racial segregation.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 3509.

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Date of creation: 11 Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:3509
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  13. Sugden, Robert, 2002. "Beyond sympathy and empathy: Adam Smith's concept of fellow-feeling," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 63-87, April.
  14. Khalil, Elias L., 1990. "Beyond Self-Interest and Altruism: A Reconstruction of Adam Smith's Theory of Human Conduct," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 255-273, October.
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