San Bernardino Valley College Relationship Between Empathy and Relativism Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a anthropology discussion question and need a sample draft to help me understand better.

Curiosity is being willing to ask questions without expecting a certain answer.

Curiosity is openmindedness to investigate, whatever you might find.

Curiosity is not about asking questions to get the answers or the information you want or need. Esp. not to argue against something. Like I’m going to understand X so I can shut it down. That’s not really curiosity. Curiosity doesn’t ground itself in a defensiveness. Curiosity is not fear-based. It is quite neutral in its emotionality.

Sometimes, curiosity leans toward the positive. Where a person says, “I know who I am. I feel safe asking questions and pondering the answers I find.” Maybe I will change my mind about something. Maybe I will get new information that helps me grow as a person or address a problem or innovate. It’s okay to change and grow, because I am still in charge of my own identity. I’m confident that I can make decisions about who I am and who I want to be, not out of defensiveness or fear.

I’m talking about curiosity, because you can’t be empathetic without a strong sense of curiosity. Empathy has been described as a way to see around the corner in someone’s life. If someone has experienced something (a loss, a trauma, a birth of a child, a joyful surprise), empathy is imagining what’s it’s like for that person. You can’t really walk in their shoes and experience what they did. But you can be curious about it. You can try to imagine what’s it’s like for them. Notice I am not saying that you would be curious or imagine what it would be like for you. Here’s the difference. Someone’s cat is hit by a car. You could imagine what it would be like if your own pet were injured and then based on how you would feel about it, you could offer words or actions to this other person. But that’s really just projecting your own ideas, experiences, or feelings onto someone else. That’s sympathy. Not empathy. We need to make an attention shift from ourselves to others.

Curiosity asks: How does it feel for that person in that situation? What if their cat was the only pet they ever had? But you have had and lost many pets. What if that person lives alone and the cat has been their only companion through divorce and trauma in their life? But you have never gone through a divorce with your pet as your only roommate. What if that cat was a street rescue that the person found in their backyard, believing themselves to be chosen by the cat and then nurturing it back to health? But your pets all came as gifts from friends and family. What if that person has never lost a loved one but you are familiar with saying goodbye to dear ones.

Curiosity is absolutely necessary to developing empathy, the ability to see into someone’s experience without judgment. Creativity then arises from our motivation to meet other people’s needs. We can begin to see the next steps in a relationship, in a business, in an action plan. There are practical and beneficial consequences of thinking this way.