Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the position of others, and thus to understand and know them. Ever since Darwin, empathy has been regarded as the basis of all human social behaviour, and most notably of ethics. Some major psychological disorders - autism, for example - can be described as the inability to empathise. Certain types of perverse behaviour, such as the torture of defenceless victims, have been explained as distortions of empathy. This book offers an overview of studies on empathy for the past 250 years. It also describes the latest research on the subject in a variety of fields: cognitive psychology, philosophy, ethology and ethics. Alain Berthoz is a professor at the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He is the author of Le Sens du mouvement and La Décison, both published by Editions Odile Jacob. Gérard Jorland is a director of studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and the author of Les Paradoxes du capital (Editions Odile Jacob) and La Science dans la philosophie.