Watch videos with subtitles in your language, upload your videos, create your own subtitles! Click here to learn more on "how to Dotsub"

Annotated captions of RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilization in English

Last Modified By Time Content
tzmofficial 00:01
00:05

RSAnimate

tzmofficial 00:05
00:10

www.theRSA.org

loveflow 00:11
00:14

Jeremy Rifkin. The Empathic Civilisation.

loveflow 00:15
00:17

In the last ten years

cosmic.synergy 00:17
00:20

there's been some very interesting developments in evolutionary biology

cosmic.synergy 00:20
00:24

neurocognitive science, child development, research and many other fields

cosmic.synergy 00:24
00:27

which is beginning to challenge some of these long held shibboleths that we've had

cosmic.synergy 00:27
00:30

about human nature and the meaning of the human journey.

cosmic.synergy 00:30
00:33

But, there is another frame of reference emerging in the sciences

loveflow 00:33
00:36

which is quite interesting and really challenges these assumptions.

loveflow 00:36
00:40

And with that, the institutions that we have created based on those assumptions

mzero 00:40
00:45

our educational institutions, our business practices, our governing institutions, etc.

cosmic.synergy 00:45
00:47

Let me take you back to the early 1990s

cosmic.synergy 00:47
00:49

sleepy little laboratory in Parma, Italy.

cosmic.synergy 00:49
00:55

And scientists had a MRI brain scanning machine on a macaque monkey

vixi 00:55
00:57

as the macaque monkey was trying to open up a nut.

cosmic.synergy 00:57
00:59

They wanted to see how the neurons would light up.

cosmic.synergy 00:59
01:03

So the monkey's trying to open up the nut, the neurons light up

loveflow 01:03
01:06

and just by serendipity, and this is how science sometimes happens

loveflow 01:06
01:09

a human being walked in the laboratory, I don't know if it was by mistake

cosmic.synergy 01:09
01:13

and he was hungry and saw the nuts and opened up one of the nuts

loveflow 01:13
01:14

and tried to crack it open.

loveflow 01:14
01:16

The macaque monkey was totally shocked

vixi 01:16
01:19

because, who was this invader in his laboratory?

loveflow 01:19
01:22

And he didn't move, he just gazed at this human trying to open up the nut

cosmic.synergy 01:22
01:25

just like he had done a few seconds earlier

vixi 01:25
01:28

and then the scientist looked on the MRI brain scanner

vixi 01:28
01:30

the same exact neurons were lighting up

loveflow 01:30
01:32

when he observed the human being opening the nut

vixi 01:32
01:34

as when the monkey opened the nut,

cosmic.synergy 01:34
01:36

and the scientists had not a clue as to what this was

loveflow 01:36
01:40

they thought the MRI machine had broken.

cosmic.synergy 01:40
01:43

They then began to put MRI brain scanning machines on other primates

loveflow 01:43
01:46

especially chimpanzees with our big neocortex.

loveflow 01:46
01:50

Then they went to humans, and what they found over and over again

loveflow 01:50
01:52

is something called 'Mirror Neurons'.

cosmic.synergy 01:52
01:54

And that is that we are apparently soft-wired

cosmic.synergy 01:55
01:57

some of the primates, all humans

vixi 01:57
02:01

we suspect elephants, we're not sure about dolphins and dogs, we've just begun.

mzero 02:01
02:04

But all humans are soft-wired with mirror neurons

cosmic.synergy 02:04
02:08

so that, if I'm observing you, your anger, your frustration

cosmic.synergy 02:08
02:13

your sense of rejection, your joy, whatever it is, and I can feel what you're doing

rafaelmatheus 02:13
02:17

the same neurons will light up in me as if I'm having that experience myself.

vixi 02:17
02:19

Now, this isn't all that unusual.

cosmic.synergy 02:19
02:21

We know if a spider goes up someone's arm

vixi 02:21
02:24

and I'm observing it going up your arm, I'm going to get a creepy feeling.

mzero 02:24
02:26

We take this for granted, but we're actually soft-wired

vixi 02:26
02:30

to actually experience another's plight as if we're experiencing it ourself.

vixi 02:30
02:34

But mirror neurons are just the beginning of a whole range of research

cosmic.synergy 02:34
02:38

going on in neuropsychology and brain research and in child development

mzero 02:38
02:43

that suggests that we are actually soft-wired not for aggression

cosmic.synergy 02:43
02:46

and violence and self interest and utilitarianism

cosmic.synergy 02:46
02:49

that we are actually soft-wired for sociability

cosmic.synergy 02:49
02:51

'attachment' as John Bowlby might have said

loveflow 02:51
02:58

affection, companionship, and that the first drive is the drive to actually 'belong'.

vixi 02:58
03:00

It's an empathic drive.

vixi 03:00
03:02

What is empathy? Very complicated.

cosmic.synergy 03:02
03:04

When little babies are in a nursery and one baby cries

vixi 03:04
03:07

the other babies will cry in response, they just don't know why.

vixi 03:07
03:10

That's empathic distress, it's built into their biology.

tzmofficial 03:10
03:15

Around two and half years of age, a child actually can begin to recognize himself in a mirror.

tzmofficial 03:15
03:19

That's when you begin to mature empathy as a cultural phenomenon.

tzmofficial 03:19
03:22

And then, once a toddler can identify themselves

cosmic.synergy 03:22
03:25

then they know that if they're observing someone else have a feeling

vixi 03:25
03:30

they know that if they feel something, it's because they're feeling it because someone else has it.

cosmic.synergy 03:30
03:32

They're two separate beings.

vixi 03:32
03:34

Selfhood that goes together with empathic development.

vixi 03:34
03:37

Increasing selfhood, increasing empathic development.

cosmic.synergy 03:37
03:40

Around eight years of age a child learns about birth and death

cosmic.synergy 03:40
03:43

they learn where they came from, that they have a one and only life

vixi 03:43
03:47

that life is fragile and vulnerable and one day they're gonna die.

cosmic.synergy 03:47
03:50

That's the beginning of an existential trip.

cosmic.synergy 03:50
03:54

Because when a child learns about birth and death and they have a one and only life

cosmic.synergy 03:54
03:57

they realise how fragile and vulnerable life is.

cosmic.synergy 03:57
04:00

It's very tough being alive on this planet

cosmic.synergy 04:00
04:04

whether you're a human being, or a fox navigating the forest.

vixi 04:04
04:06

So when a child learns that life is vulnerable and fragile

tzmofficial 04:06
04:09

and that every moment is precious, and that they have their own unique history

vixi 04:09
04:14

it allows a child then, to experience another's plight in the same way.

tzmofficial 04:14
04:17

That, that other person, or other being (could be another creature)

vixi 04:17
04:23

has a one and only life, it's tough to be alive and the odds are not always good.

cosmic.synergy 04:23
04:27

So if you think about the times that we've empathized with each other or fellow creatures

tzmofficial 04:27
04:29

it's always because we felt their struggle.

tzmofficial 04:29
04:33

We have the whiff of death in empathy, and the celebration of life.

tzmofficial 04:33
04:36

And we show solidarity with our compassion.

tzmofficial 04:36
04:39

Empathy is the opposite of Utopia.

vixi 04:39
04:43

There is no empathy in Heaven, I guarantee you, I'll tell you before you get there.

vixi 04:43
04:46

There isn't any empathy in Heaven because there's no mortality.

vixi 04:46
04:50

There's no empathy in Utopia because there is no suffering.

vixi 04:50
04:54

Empathy is grounded in the acknowledgement of death and the celebration of life

vixi 04:54
04:57

and rooting for each other to flourish and be.

cosmic.synergy 04:57
05:00

It's based on our frailties and imperfections.

mzero 05:00
05:04

So when we talk about building an empathic civilization, we're not talking about Utopia.

vixi 05:04
05:07

We're talking about the ability of human beings to show solidarity

cosmic.synergy 05:07
05:08

not only with each other

tzmofficial 05:08
05:11

but our fellow creatures who have a one and only life on this little planet.

tzmofficial 05:11
05:14

We are 'homoempathicus', so here is the question

cosmic.synergy 05:14
05:16

We know that consciousness changes in history

rafaelmatheus 05:16
05:22

the way our brain is wired today is not the way a medieval serf's brain would be wired,

mzero 05:22
05:28

and their brain wouldn't be the same as the wiring of a forager/hunter 30,000 years ago.

cosmic.synergy 05:28
05:32

So the question I asked at the beginning of this study six years ago is

cosmic.synergy 05:32
05:35

How does consciousness change in history?

cosmic.synergy 05:35
05:37

Because I wanted to imagine the following proposition

cosmic.synergy 05:37
05:42

Is it possible that, we human beings who are soft-wired for empathic distress

cosmic.synergy 05:42
05:46

is it possible we could actually extend our empathy to the entire human race

cosmic.synergy 05:46
05:48

as an extended family

cosmic.synergy 05:48
05:51

and to our fellow creatures as part of our evolutionary family

vixi 05:51
05:55

and to the biosphere as our common community?

cosmic.synergy 05:55
05:57

If it's possible to imagine that

vixi 05:57
06:00

then we may be able to save our species and save our planet.

tzmofficial 06:00
06:03

And when I say to you tonight, if it's impossible to even imagine that

vixi 06:03
06:06

I don't see how we're going to make it.

vixi 06:06
06:08

Empathy is the invisible hand.

cosmic.synergy 06:08
06:14

Empathy is what allows us to stretch our sensibility with another

vixi 06:14
06:17

so that we can cohere in larger social units.

cosmic.synergy 06:17
06:21

To empathise is to civilise, to civilise is to empathise.

vixi 06:21
06:25

With forager/hunter societies, communication only extended to

vixi 06:25
06:27

the local tribe and shouting distance.

cosmic.synergy 06:27
06:30

Everyone over in the next mountain was the 'alien other'.

vixi 06:30
06:33

So empathy only extended to blood ties.

cosmic.synergy 06:33
06:36

When we went to the great hydraulic-agricultural civilisations

vixi 06:36
06:39

script allowed us to extend the central nervous system

cosmic.synergy 06:39
06:42

and to annihilate more time and space and bring more people together

cosmic.synergy 06:42
06:46

and the differentiation of skills and the increasing selfhood

cosmic.synergy 06:46
06:50

not only led to theological consciousness but empathy now extended to a new fiction.

cosmic.synergy 06:50
06:54

And that is, instead of just associating with one's blood ties

cosmic.synergy 06:54
06:59

we de-tribalised and began associations based on religious ties.

cosmic.synergy 06:59
07:01

So a new fiction

cosmic.synergy 07:01
07:05

Jews start to see all other Jews as extended family and empathise with Jews.

cosmic.synergy 07:05
07:09

Christians start to see all other Christians as extended family and empathise with Christians

tzmofficial 07:09
07:10

Muslims the same.

tzmofficial 07:10
07:13

When we get to the 19th century, the industrial revolution

tzmofficial 07:13
07:19

and we extend markets now to larger areas and create a fiction called 'The Nation State'.

cosmic.synergy 07:19
07:24

And all of a sudden, the Brits start to see others in Britain as extended family

rafaelmatheus 07:24
07:28

the Germans start to see Germans as extended family, the Americans as Americans.

tzmofficial 07:28
07:35

There was no such thing as 'Germany'. There was no such thing as 'France'. These are fictions.

vixi 07:35
07:39

But they allow us to extend our families so that we can have loyalties and identities

vixi 07:39
07:42

based on the new complex energy communication revolutions we have

vixi 07:42
07:44

that annihilate time and space.

cosmic.synergy 07:44
07:48

But if we have gone from empathy in blood ties

cosmic.synergy 07:48
07:51

to empathy in religious associational ties

cosmic.synergy 07:51
07:54

to empathy based on national identification

cosmic.synergy 07:54
07:57

is it really a big stretch to imagine the new technologies

vixi 07:57
08:03

allowing us to connect our empathy to the human race at large in a single biosphere?

cosmic.synergy 08:03
08:07

And what reason would we stop here at the nation-state identity

cosmic.synergy 08:07
08:10

and only have ideological empathy or theological based empathy

tzmofficial 08:10
08:13

or tribal-based blood-tie empathy?

vixi 08:13
08:17

We have the technology that allows us to extend the central nervous system

mzero 08:17
08:20

and to think viscerally as a family, not just intellectually.

cosmic.synergy 08:20
08:23

When that earthquake hit Haiti and then Chile, but especially Haiti

tzmofficial 08:23
08:25

within an hour, the Twitters came out

tzmofficial 08:25
08:29

and within two hours, some cell phone videos - YouTube

vixi 08:29
08:31

and within three hours the entire human race

vixi 08:31
08:35

was in an empathic embrace, coming to the aid of Haiti.

cosmic.synergy 08:35
08:38

If we were, as the enlightenment philosophers suggested

tzmofficial 08:38
08:41

materialistic, self-interested, utilitarian, pleasure-seeking

vixi 08:41
08:44

it couldn't account for the response to Haiti.

cosmic.synergy 08:44
08:48

Apparently, 175,000 years ago in the Rift Valley of Africa

mzero 08:48
08:53

there were about 10,000 anatomically modern human beings walking the grasslands, our ancestors.

cosmic.synergy 08:53
08:57

The geneticists located one data base woman, it's a data baseline

vixi 08:57
09:02

apparently, her genes passed to everyone in this room tonight, the other ladies didn't make it.

vixi 09:02
09:04

Gets even more strange...

cosmic.synergy 09:04
09:08

They located a single male, this is a data baseline for genetics

cosmic.synergy 09:08
09:11

they call him the 'Y chromosome Adam'

cosmic.synergy 09:11
09:13

apparently a very potent guy

vixi 09:13
09:15

his genes passed to everyone in this room.

tzmofficial 09:15
09:20

So here's the news: 6.8 billion people, at various stages of consciousness

cosmic.synergy 09:20
09:25

theological, ideological, psychological, dramaturgical

cosmic.synergy 09:25
09:28

we're all fighting with each other with different ideas about the world

vixi 09:28
09:29

and guess what?

tzmofficial 09:29
09:32

We all came from two people. The Bible got this one right.

tzmofficial 09:32
09:35

We could've come from many, but the point is

vixi 09:35
09:37

we have to begin thinking as an extended family.

vixi 09:37
09:39

We have to broaden our sense of identity.

tzmofficial 09:39
09:43

We don't lose the old identities of nationhood, and our religious identities

vixi 09:43
09:45

and even our blood ties.

vixi 09:45
09:49

But we extend our identities so we can think of the human race as our fellow sojourners.

tzmofficial 09:49
09:52

And our other creatures here as part of our evolutionary family

vixi 09:52
09:54

and the biosphere as our community.

vixi 09:54
09:56

We have to rethink the human narrative.

tzmofficial 09:56
10:00

If we are truly homoempathicus, then we need to bring out that core nature.

tzmofficial 10:00
10:03

because, if it doesn't come out and it's repressed

cosmic.synergy 10:03
10:07

by our parenting, our educational system, our business practice and government

cosmic.synergy 10:07
10:08

the secondary drives come

tzmofficial 10:08
10:11

the narcissism, the materialism, the violence, the aggression.

tzmofficial 10:11
10:13

If we can have a global debate

cosmic.synergy 10:13
10:15

let us start here from the British Royal Society for the Arts

vixi 10:15
10:17

which apparently you are doing.

vixi 10:17
10:19

To begin rethinking human nature.

cosmic.synergy 10:19
10:21

To bring out our empathic sociability

vixi 10:21
10:23

so that we can rethink the institutions and society

cosmic.synergy 10:23
10:28

and prepare the groundwork for an empathic civilisation.