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This book is both a careful review of the numerous debates that have stirred--and continue to stir--the cognitive sciences, and a personal essay. The author has tried to elaborate an original theory of psychic activity, based, on the one hand, on the cognitive conscious and the cognitive unconscious, and, on the other, on the cognitive unconscious and the affective unconscious. Pierre Buser, a former director of the Institut des neurosciences at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, is Professor Emeritus at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, and a member of the Académie des Sciences.
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.
How can one be oneself without denying others? How can one consider others without negating oneself? How can one avoid the two extremes of complete selfishness and total self-sacrifice ? What if the ethics of the other, of responsibility for others which can lead us to risk our lives for others resulted not only in a dead-end (inefficient action, lack of action, justification of past actions) but also kept us from knowing ourselves and, consequently, others and the true nature of our relations with them? Daniel Sibony was trained as a philosopher and is a practising psychoanalyst.
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