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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I posted about this before in the lounge thread, and I said I would create a thread about it later.

I recently read a book entitled Against Empathy: the Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom and will be summarizing his arguments in here and adding my own commentary. Modern society has developed a very high opinion of affective empathy. This is not to be confused with cognitive empathy. Affective empathy deals with feeling the feelings of others, while cognitive empathy deals with understanding the feelings of others.

From the practical perspective, this affective empathy prompts poor decision making. When we empathize with someone, we are prone to go out of our way to help this person. This is meant to be a major selling point, but this tendency often manifests in irrational ways. A study was done where a ill girl was waiting for needed medication from a charity. Participants read a story about her and were asked if she should be allowed to cut in line for this medication. Those who read a version that led them to empathize were more likely to let her cut, even though his hurt the children that were ahead of her.

Much of the adulation for affective empathy that we see owes to it being seen as a necessary condition for doing good deeds. This does not bear out, as people can be altruistic for ethical reasons as well (that is, they can be motivated by Fi and not Fe, to bring it into the MBTI context). A wealthy philanthropist donated his own kidney on the grounds that the odds of dying in the surgery were 1 in 4,000, so to not donate would mean that he valued his life 4,000x as much as a stranger's. Furthermore, studies have found that nurses who rate highly in affective empathy actually spend less time helping patients, as they are forced to seek comfort from other hospital staff to deal with their empathetic reaction.

A point the author did not touch on but occurred to me, is also the inaccuracy of empathy. I have been in situations where someone empathizes with a plight that I am unfazed by, and they waste time and energy being concerned with it. Many of the boosters of empathy imagine that it is a better route to identifying with other people than sheer rationality, but this concept is largely unfounded. Feelings, like thoughts, are personal to the individual. In trying to focus on the feelings of others, you create a conception of that person that is necessarily incomplete and potentially very inaccurate.

I posted this in the INTJ section, because I found this argument resonated strongly with me, and I suspect that it is an INTJ thing. Affective empathy, from what I have gathered in talking to others about this, relates strongly to Fe. Its focus on the purely human over practical considerations is antithetical to Te, and it is therefore a different way of judging that is alien to the INTJ. I am strongly in favor of altruism, but I believe such altruism has to be guided by reason. To do otherwise is to resign oneself to pointless gestures changing nothing, except maybe making a couple people feel better.

I am interested in hearing thoughts from other INTJs as it was not exactly well advertized in its former locale (I don't always look in the Lounge), but I am also interested in getting the input of other types here.
 

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hum. i don't go in the lounge so i missed the back story on this, but as a bystander i guess i feel like this new thing of dividing empathy into smaller distinct pigeonholes is a bit of a red herring really. isn't it just new labels for concepts that were already known? whether you call it 'cognitive empathy' or something else, i don't think the distinction itself is a new thing. maybe labelling it in that way just makes the concepts easier to grasp and discussion becomes more accessible thanks to that. back in the day, the touchy-feely 1970's types would have said 'i identify' or 'i relate' from the different camps, but it seems to me like the same thing :tongue:

anyway. i don't like to be pigeonholed. when it comes to nailing my own colours to any mast As An Intj, i prefer to see myself as a double threat. or maybe a double-threat-and-a-half. i can do one, or i can do the other, and the extra half-threat is the fact that having access to both means i have the ability to decide which one is more applicable and more appropriate at a given time. i can disregard the touchy-feelies if i don't think they're going to help; i can disregard the 'cold' form of abstract empathy if i feel like it wouldn't be the right thing. and if i don't 'feel' someone else in the way that some people might, i still have the emergency backup of social values like respect and good manners and such.

i do agree that it's completely not mandatory for someone to 'feel' anyone else in order to behave with consideration, respect and good will.

edit from here on down:

A point the author did not touch on but occurred to me, is also the inaccuracy of empathy. I have been in situations where someone empathizes with a plight that I am unfazed by, and they waste time and energy being concerned with it. Many of the boosters of empathy imagine that it is a better route to identifying with other people than sheer rationality, but this concept is largely unfounded. Feelings, like thoughts, are personal to the individual. In trying to focus on the feelings of others, you create a conception of that person that is necessarily incomplete and potentially very inaccurate.
i seriously agree with this. bigtime, and with all of it. but i honestly truly don't think it's about one form being more right or accurate than the other one.

the part that i underlined is an example of someone usign the 'affective' path to being totally wrong. reason why i'm carping here is because true as that is. . . so is the corollary experience, of having someone with a clipboard referencing some abstract description of emotional mechanics that they have read, and using that to tell you you feel something you just do not feel.

i see it as something that goes both ways. and in both cases i don't see the 'method' as being the issue. i see the accuracy as the issue, no matter which form it takes. either one can be equally inaccurate. either one can be equally accurate too.

it comes down to perceptiveness in my mind, not 'type' of empathy. and probably tact, and prolly a few other things. none of those seems to me like they're exclusively the property of either 'type'.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
hum. i don't go in the lounge so i missed the back story on this, but as a bystander i guess i feel like this new thing of dividing empathy into smaller distinct pigeonholes is a bit of a red herring really. isn't it just new labels for concepts that were already known? whether you call it 'cognitive empathy' or something else, i don't think the distinction itself is a new thing. maybe labelling it in that way just makes the concepts easier to grasp and discussion becomes more accessible thanks to that. back in the day, the touchy-feely 1970's types would have said 'i identify' or 'i relate' from the different camps, but it seems to me like the same thing :tongue:
This gets into semantics. The author references Adam Smith's writings on emotion, and Smith uses "sympathy" to describe what I call "affective empathy". I only bring up the distinction because, due to the more recent trend to use the word "empathy" to describe both varieties, many people use the concepts interchangeably when they should be regarded differently. You may notice that I do not refer to cognitive empathy again in my post. I will start referring to affective empathy as just empathy, since that is the more relevant usage here.

anyway. i don't like to be pigeonholed. when it comes to nailing my own colours to any mast As An Intj, i prefer to see myself as a double threat. or maybe a double-threat-and-a-half. i can do one, or i can do the other, and the extra half-threat is the fact that having access to both means i have the ability to decide which one is more applicable and more appropriate at a given time. i can disregard the touchy-feelies if i don't think they're going to help; i can disregard the 'cold' form of abstract empathy if i feel like it wouldn't be the right thing. and if i don't 'feel' someone else in the way that some people might, i still have the emergency backup of social values like respect and good manners and such.

i do agree that it's completely not mandatory for someone to 'feel' anyone else in order to behave with consideration, respect and good will.
This here is an important point; even if we do not identify with someone, we have values telling us how we should act. I have noticed strong empathetic types who were able to act in outright callous fashion if they found themselves unable to empathize with the other person. Alternatively, they may cause harm to other people if it allows them to help a person who they empathize with, as the study with the ill child demonstrates. These people are hardly moral or admirable, because they don't have that emergency backup that forces them to treat other people with respect. There is a strong tendency in society to associate violent and aggressive behavior with low empathy, but sometimes this can actually be a result of high empathy.

edit from here on down:

i seriously agree with this. bigtime, and with all of it. but i honestly truly don't think it's about one form being more right or accurate than the other one.

the part that i underlined is an example of someone usign the 'affective' path to being totally wrong. reason why i'm carping here is because true as that is. . . so is the corollary experience, of having someone with a clipboard referencing some abstract description of emotional mechanics that they have read, and using that to tell you you feel something you just do not feel.

i see it as something that goes both ways. and in both cases i don't see the 'method' as being the issue. i see the accuracy as the issue, no matter which form it takes. either one can be equally inaccurate. either one can be equally accurate too.

it comes down to perceptiveness in my mind, not 'type' of empathy. and probably tact, and prolly a few other things. none of those seems to me like they're exclusively the property of either 'type'.
I am glad to see this example resonated with you too. I used to just think of empathy as "something for other people", but a few experiences with inaccurate empathy caused me to think about it in more depth.

I don't mean to say that empathy is unconditionally bad and I don't mean to attack empathetic people in general, especially as it appears to be an inborn trait. I have also seen empathy applied to a great deal of good. The practice has its limitations, however, and these need to be discussed. The past 50 years of thought have done much to criticize the concept of unrestrained reason, but it has become popular instead to celebrate the concept of unrestrained emotion. This is a damaging strain of thought that needs to be rebutted; emotion without reason is inarticulate and ineffectual.
 

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This gets into semantics.
that's the word i was looking for! yup, semantics :tongue:

I will start referring to affective empathy as just empathy, since that is the more relevant usage here.
please don't feel like you need to just for the sake of me picking nits.

This here is an important point; even if we do not identify with someone, we have values telling us how we should act. I have noticed strong empathetic types who were able to act in outright callous fashion if they found themselves unable to empathize with the other person.
i think that's one of the things? i haven't read the book you refer to but it seems to be one of the directions you were taking this in. the idea that when a [segment of] a culture overglorifies a particular method, people who use it a lot cease to question themselves. or to hold themselves socially accountable for their own narrowness.

i'm partly drawing from my experience of being the only teen i'd ever met whose parent had just spent a few years growing cancer and dying of it. that was a long time ago, but i find the founding principle that i discovered - 'just because you've never heard of it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist' - is still valid and still valuable.

There is a strong tendency in society to associate violent and aggressive behavior with low empathy, but sometimes this can actually be a result of high empathy.
sure. taht's more a thing of 'my feels legitimize/justify [fill in the blank]' ime.

but a few experiences with inaccurate empathy caused me to think about it in more depth.
i find this an extremely big deal, personally :tongue:. someone who stays sort of remote and clinical while saying they have no personal experience [interest] in something or other can be a bit liek bumping your nose on a sheet of glass that you didn't expect. but being insistently and intrusively 'empathized' with by someone whose empathy you don't want and don't recognize . . . that's the stuff that makes me feel psychologically groped. those are the people i feel quite tempted to punch, just like i would with anyone who did put a hand on some body part i never invited them to.

it has become popular instead to celebrate the concept of unrestrained emotion.
i think too that this idea could be tied to the other thread that has been current recently, about tech 'hijacking' our minds - at least speculatively. there's certainly a great deal of facile but overwrought emoting [iyam] in even the outskirts of social media such as youtube, which is about as far as i ever even get into sm. to me a staggering amount of it seems like self-serving bullshit, but being how you can sort of massage the interwebs into serving as your own personal echo chamber these days, i'm not sure how many people ever even get reality-checked about the sheer tastelessness of much of that emo-wanking.
 
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I’m familiar with empathy on an intellectual level (trying to understand what and how others think and why), but the notion –let alone the actual experience– of affective empathy is something I can’t even grasp.

Moreover, I’m sceptical about altruism bc think human beings are selfish creatures. Or maybe my anthropological pessimism is becoming increasingly heavier… :unsure:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
that's the word i was looking for! yup, semantics :tongue:



please don't feel like you need to just for the sake of me picking nits.
It is the more relevant usage, as I said.

i think that's one of the things? i haven't read the book you refer to but it seems to be one of the directions you were taking this in. the idea that when a [segment of] a culture overglorifies a particular method, people who use it a lot cease to question themselves. or to hold themselves socially accountable for their own narrowness.

i'm partly drawing from my experience of being the only teen i'd ever met whose parent had just spent a few years growing cancer and dying of it. that was a long time ago, but i find the founding principle that i discovered - 'just because you've never heard of it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist' - is still valid and still valuable.
I hadn't thought of it in terms of "ceasing to question themselves", but that is interesting. My thought was that they do not see it as narrow, because the moral question had already been settled. In the end, however, that is myopia borne from overreliance on a particular lens to consider the world.

i find this an extremely big deal, personally :tongue:. someone who stays sort of remote and clinical while saying they have no personal experience [interest] in something or other can be a bit liek bumping your nose on a sheet of glass that you didn't expect. but being insistently and intrusively 'empathized' with by someone whose empathy you don't want and don't recognize . . . that's the stuff that makes me feel psychologically groped. those are the people i feel quite tempted to punch, just like i would with anyone who did put a hand on some body part i never invited them to.
"Psychologically groped" is a great way to put it. It's a rotten experience, and when it has happened to me I mostly just want the sources of this to go away. Despite this, I have heard very little said about the issue of inaccurate empathy. The author did not touch on this point at all. How can it be that a phenomenon that is so galling is so unnoted?

i think too that this idea could be tied to the other thread that has been current recently, about tech 'hijacking' our minds - at least speculatively. there's certainly a great deal of facile but overwrought emoting [iyam] in even the outskirts of social media such as youtube, which is about as far as i ever even get into sm. to me a staggering amount of it seems like self-serving bullshit, but being how you can sort of massage the interwebs into serving as your own personal echo chamber these days, i'm not sure how many people ever even get reality-checked about the sheer tastelessness of much of that emo-wanking.

The internet has even evolved to favor the construction of an echo chamber. It is extremely easy to shut out opposing points of view with websites dedicated to any persuasion. Search algorithms on Youtube tend to feed you videos similar to what you already saw, so you can spend hours consuming content that reinforces your own preconceptions.

More to my previous point though, is how much of academia (particularly philosophy) has come to glorify a certain postmodernist irrationality. That the houses of learning are becoming home to a strongly anti-rational school of thought is quite ironic, and bodes ill for the future. Nevertheless, Bloom points out that there is a certain hypocrisy in what they do; they still couch their attack on reason in reason. Nobody is content to say that they "just feel that emotion is the only thing that matters". People have the deep psychological need to phrase even the most irrational beliefs in rational terms.
 

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@PiT

You`re proposing a perspective that resonates with your subjective preferences, in a place that on average is more likely to agree with you.
Have you considered seeking out mature users of (affective) empathy and get their opinion as well?

My opinion is quite simple, application of a single approach, whatever that approach, is likely to have negative side effects. I propose to be open and encourage those who wield tools such as affective empathy be mature in its usage. Then perhaps as a species we can grow.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@PiT

You`re proposing a perspective that resonates with your subjective preferences, in a place that on average is more likely to agree with you.
Have you considered seeking out mature users of (affective) empathy and get their opinion as well?

My opinion is quite simple, application of a single approach, whatever that approach, is likely to have negative side effects. I propose to be open and encourage those who wield tools such as affective empathy be mature in its usage. Then perhaps as a species we can grow.
I posted this here since I thought it would be of particular interest to INTJs, and I also hoped for some input from the people of other types that frequent this board. I only found out after the fact that the issue of empathy was fairly well trod here recently. I may try putting this on the General Psychology board, so I can get more of a cross-section of opinions on the matter.
 

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I remember reading this article review of the book a few years ago:

Paul Bloom Makes a Weirdly Convincing Anti-Empathy Argument -- Science of Us

It's definitely a notion that an INTJ would be preferential towards, given we probably on average have much higher aptitude towards cognitive empathy than affective (using the given definitions)....I found the part about innumeracy in particular weirdly validating:

As for innumeracy, Bloom points out that it’s really hard to truly empathize with more than one or two people at the same time. Seriously: Try it. You won’t be able to do it. Empathy, then, often causes us to focus so intently on individuals — often in a way that paralyzes us with grief or anger — that we miss the bigger picture. One dead Syrian child washed up on a beach can launch a flood of temporarily, limited activism, but it’s simply harder to grasp and act upon the full scope of the catastrophe in Syria.
There's always something that seems off to me (aside from the blatant inequity of it all) when some incident is heavily reported in the media, and for a brief amount of time it's treated like the worst thing in human history. Then a week later it's like the whole world has moved on. That actually seems far more heartless than doing nothing in the first place. Also kinda self-centered "we spent a week giving a damn about something that happened halfway around the world, shows how compassionate we are...welp, problem solved, what's next?"

In tribal societies, the inclination was always to keep to one's own... first world problems, man. Like he says in the review, "Another pitfall of empathy is it usually causes us to feel the most strongly toward people who are like us, which can lead to war and other terrible acts." But at the same time, it isn't possible to empathize equally with millions or billions of people. And failing to recognize that probably just amplifies the tribalism.
 
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I am strongly in favor of altruism, but I believe such altruism has to be guided by reason. To do otherwise is to resign oneself to pointless gestures changing nothing, except maybe making a couple people feel better.
To which one might raise that "making a couple people feel better" is not pointless; making a single person feel better already is enough, because you don't put a value on that. And perhaps it's actually quite selfish, and the main motivation is making themselves feel better, by making someone else feel better; but does the intention matter? The outcome remains positive.

Anyway, of course this exists. And I suppose it's a thing for all heavy thinkers; if your will guides your actions, and feelings are a separate entity, what is there but trying to understand the feeling of others, if you want to be motivated to act? Regardless of what I feel (usually not overly much), it has to make sense or I'm not taking action. And what makes sense is determined by abstract ethical rules; it's not empathy (the usual kind) that keeps me from needlessly harming any kind of creature, for instance, but a strong belief in the worth of life as such. So it's cognitive empathy, and that works just as well, and just as sure to guide me through do's or don't's. I think I wrote as much on this empathy quotient test thread we had.

Your case was fairly benign, by the way. It's easy enough to construct cases where it's not just an a question of optimisation, but an empathetic action is actually harmful to the very person it was supposed to help. Take, for example, giving a pleading and begging drug addict money for the next shot. It's my understanding that heavy Fe types spend a good deal of time learning exactly that, to ignore the impulse because it's not always right.

And it's not a question of picking this, is it? I'm not sure one is better than another, because logic can be just as faulty as feelings, but definitely some people show strong preferences, so if you don't really have the one, you have to use (and are using) the other. Do you think it makes a difference in practice and one is actually favoured by society like the book claims?
 

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Sounds like "Compassionate Conservatism."

No, thanks to that.

This is all very personal, right? A thread was created about women being raped at a Swedish music festival, so it was shut down and a group of women started their own female-only music festival. Of course, the charming men of perC complained about how unfair it was that all men were being punished for a "few' rapists... I remarked how none of them had a thing to say about why the original festival was shut down in the first place. That's when a fellow INTJ [that now types as something else - or he could be trolling], asked why should he care about random women he doesn't know, which then sparked a side-debate about the purpose of empathy. By then I'd checked out of the thread but I wasn't questioning their lack of empathy, more like consideration and sensitivity towards victims of the crime, rather than the male 'victims' of sexism. <Funny how that user didn't realize that he was being empathetic towards a group of random men he doesn't know.

A point the author did not touch on but occurred to me, is also the inaccuracy of empathy. I have been in situations where someone empathizes with a plight that I am unfazed by, and they waste time and energy being concerned with it. Many of the boosters of empathy imagine that it is a better route to identifying with other people than sheer rationality, but this concept is largely unfounded. Feelings, like thoughts, are personal to the individual. In trying to focus on the feelings of others, you create a conception of that person that is necessarily incomplete and potentially very inaccurate.
I think this parsing of types of empathy is misguided - annoying really - as it dodges the underlying issue. You're either considerate or you aren't. The things you choose to be empathetic about are personal; it depends on how wide of a scope you have for others and your own past experiences. If you don't feel badly for a person that's gone through x,y or z, then you don't. Someone else caring about it - when you don't - seems 'inaccurate' but they care, so it ain't inaccurate for them. Why bother parsing levels of empathy to explain why it's not always a good thing to care when the answer is 'no, I'm not sympathetic to this cause'?

If you face backlash for 'being cold' or 'lacking empathy' then so be it. That's a price to pay for remaining authentic to personal, core values.

I posted this in the INTJ section, because I found this argument resonated strongly with me, and I suspect that it is an INTJ thing. Affective empathy, from what I have gathered in talking to others about this, relates strongly to Fe. Its focus on the purely human over practical considerations is antithetical to Te, and it is therefore a different way of judging that is alien to the INTJ. I am strongly in favor of altruism, but I believe such altruism has to be guided by reason. To do otherwise is to resign oneself to pointless gestures changing nothing, except maybe making a couple people feel better.
Disagree about this being an INTJ-thing. And sometimes the practical thing to do is to show 'affective' empathy. I'm not largely into the squishy shit, but making a couple of people feel better does make a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
To which one might raise that "making a couple people feel better" is not pointless; making a single person feel better already is enough, because you don't put a value on that. And perhaps it's actually quite selfish, and the main motivation is making themselves feel better, by making someone else feel better; but does the intention matter? The outcome remains positive.
Depends on the context, really. If someone has terminal cancer, then making them feel better is fine. If your arm is stuck in a window, it would be far more effective to get it out from there. I am posing this as opposed to practical action, though it is true that this dichotomy is not valid in every situation.

Anyway, of course this exists. And I suppose it's a thing for all heavy thinkers; if your will guides your actions, and feelings are a separate entity, what is there but trying to understand the feeling of others, if you want to be motivated to act? Regardless of what I feel (usually not overly much), it has to make sense or I'm not taking action. And what makes sense is determined by abstract ethical rules; it's not empathy (the usual kind) that keeps me from needlessly harming any kind of creature, for instance, but a strong belief in the worth of life as such. So it's cognitive empathy, and that works just as well, and just as sure to guide me through do's or don't's. I think I wrote as much on this empathy quotient test thread we had.
This gets to a major point of the author's, that being that cognitive empathy and ethics are sufficient to behaving morally. This shouldn't be a controversial view, but you have psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen describing evil as "an erosion of empathy".

Your case was fairly benign, by the way. It's easy enough to construct cases where it's not just an a question of optimisation, but an empathetic action is actually harmful to the very person it was supposed to help. Take, for example, giving a pleading and begging drug addict money for the next shot. It's my understanding that heavy Fe types spend a good deal of time learning exactly that, to ignore the impulse because it's not always right.
I was going for an actual example that I had experience with, but there are certainly ethical cases where the empathetic response is clearly not a good one. Involving people other than just the object of the empathy, the ill child study I referenced fits the bill on this.

And it's not a question of picking this, is it? I'm not sure one is better than another, because logic can be just as faulty as feelings, but definitely some people show strong preferences, so if you don't really have the one, you have to use (and are using) the other. Do you think it makes a difference in practice and one is actually favoured by society like the book claims?
Much has been done in recent years to attack the concept of logic and defend feelings as a driver of action. Among educated circles, it is seen as gauche to actively defend the role of reason in decision making. I'm not really interested in shaming people for preferring empathy, since as I suggested above they seem to be wired this way. Part of what resonated with me with this book is the idea that good and sometimes better decisions can be made without the aid of empathy.

Sounds like "Compassionate Conservatism."

No, thanks to that.

This is all very personal, right? A thread was created about women being raped at a Swedish music festival, so it was shut down and a group of women started their own female-only music festival. Of course, the charming men of perC complained about how unfair it was that all men were being punished for a "few' rapists... I remarked how none of them had a thing to say about why the original festival was shut down in the first place. That's when a fellow INTJ [that now types as something else - or he could be trolling], asked why should he care about random women he doesn't know, which then sparked a side-debate about the purpose of empathy. By then I'd checked out of the thread but I wasn't questioning their lack of empathy, more like consideration and sensitivity towards victims of the crime, rather than the male 'victims' of sexism. <Funny how that user didn't realize that he was being empathetic towards a group of random men he doesn't know.
I vaguely remember the controversy, but I never saw the post or the poster. I would note that there are Te arguments (pertaining to various problems arising from the crime of rape and the effects it has on society) and Fi arguments (an ethical condemnation of rape) for caring about what happened that have nothing to do with empathy.

I think this parsing of types of empathy is misguided - annoying really - as it dodges the underlying issue. You're either considerate or you aren't. The things you choose to be empathetic about are personal; it depends on how wide of a scope you have for others and your own past experiences. If you don't feel badly for a person that's gone through x,y or z, then you don't. Someone else caring about it - when you don't - seems 'inaccurate' but they care, so it ain't inaccurate for them. Why bother parsing levels of empathy to explain why it's not always a good thing to care when the answer is 'no, I'm not sympathetic to this cause'?

If you face backlash for 'being cold' or 'lacking empathy' then so be it. That's a price to pay for remaining authentic to personal, core values.
I think you misunderstand me; I am the recipient of the empathy in this case. I experienced what was really a minor inconvenience. I was quite disinterested, but I was targeted for someone else's empathy.

Disagree about this being an INTJ-thing. And sometimes the practical thing to do is to show 'affective' empathy. I'm not largely into the squishy shit, but making a couple of people feel better does make a difference.
Being the "practical" thing to do doesn't automatically make an INTJ skilled at it. Some circles really enjoy the squishiness, but I have little time for such things.
 

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Plague Doctor
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I know there's a better example out there - probably even one another INTJ can quickly jump in and mention, but I love books about how people make decisions and why some of the decisions we make are irrational, how we trick ourselves into believing really ridiculous things, etc...

Here's an example from a very simple Amazon search (I don't recommend this, I've never read it, but it's the sort of thing I'm thinking about)

https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Make-Mistakes-Without/dp/0767928067/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1510541549&sr=1-4

I think the question you're asking is similar to what these sorts of books aim to do. I don't know of any psychology books off the top of my head that talk about the "irrationality of empathy" or whatever, but I can think that there are probably some good examples in evolutionary psychology or sociology that can give some examples of what you're asking about and how it might have lead to a species or tribe's extinction (or, lead the other direction, for them to thrive for some unknown factor).

Empathy is a tough thing to analyze outside of the biological pictures of activity throughout the limbic system and cognitive empathy (or what the author is describing) is most likely a result of strong networking during adolescence between the limbic system and the frontal cortex. In other words, it's empathy (or perhaps, emotion) tempered with reason.

Piaget created a famous developmental model of cognitive development comprised of 4 stages. It ends with a stage (formal operational) that includes the ability for mental mapping, abstract thinking, theoretical thinking, etc... Some psychologists came up with a fifth stage which only some adults reach (probably most people living in 1st world countries) which, I think, would be similar to this cognitive empathy described by this author. They called it "post-operational" and it consists of strategizing, money planning, business sense.

It's essentially the difference between people who are able to plan well and are good with money vs people who don't even have a framework to go off of, though they can still use formal operational (4th stage) thinking to imagine what their life would be like if they had a lot of money, for example.

Anyway, as I said in another thread, I'm interested in reading this book and I haven't read it yet and I'll keep you posted on what I think. But these are my impressions of it now. I'm interested in it because I'm wondering how it's going to parallel with the theories I'm already aware of, mostly.

As for the nuances of empathy, I'm aware they are there. Some people are much more (outwardly) empathetic than others, it would seem. However, empathy is a human thing. And, I've mentioned before, that if we have evolved to have emotions, feelings, and empathy (something not universally found in animals), then it must serve some sort of purpose. What that is, I don't know. But for some reason it has helped us survive.

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Edit: of course now I think of one:

Thinking Fast and Slow
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
 
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