Without a proper understanding of the social evolution of the empathic impulse over the course of human history, we run the risk of trivializing the term in the public arena, even turning it into the subject of ridicule and caricature.
Nothing could be more important at this juncture in our history as a species than to have a meaningful cultural debate about the role empathy has played in the development and conduct of human affairs. Our ever more complex energy-consuming global civilization is careening the human race to the very brink of extinction. We need now, more than ever, to retrace our steps, to understand how we got here, so that we can find a new, more secure footing that can free us from the entropic shackle and allow us to thrive while living more lightly on Earth and in harmony with our fellow creatures and the ecosystems that nurture life. Our scientists tell us that we have but a few years to find a new economic road map for civilization -one that takes us into a new energy regime that is more sustainable and able to break the fever that is heating up the biosphere.
To accomplish this undertaking requires that we know how human consciousness has developed over eons of history as we transitioned into a succession of ever more complex energy-consuming civilizations. By rediscovering our cognitive past, we find important clues to how we might redirect our conscious future. With our very survival at stake, we can no longer afford to remain unmindful about how empathic consciousness has evolved across history and at what expense to the Earth we inhabit.
A review of the great energy/communication complexes in history, the empathic surges and the forms of human consciousness that accompanied them, and the entropic impacts that they have created will give us an anthropological map of where we have come from and hopefully a compass to correct our course and help us navigate our way into the Age of Empathy.