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Why humans are more compassionate than cats?

Why humans are more compassionate than cats?

Or why someone’s thesis needs a tune-up

In “The Compassionate Species” (The Greater Good, July 31, 2012), Dacher Keltner explains compassion as follows:

In fact, our babies are the most vulnerable offspring on the face of the Earth. And that simple fact changed everything. It rearranged our social structures, building cooperative networks of caretaking, and it rearranged our nervous systems. We became the super caregiving species, to the point where acts of care improve our physical health and lengthen our lives. We are born to be good to each other.

Some of us find this puzzling because, quite honestly, kittens are much more helpless when just born than babies, as they are blind and deaf.

And cats are not noticeably more compassionate than humans in consequence of their offsprings’ greater initial helplessness.

This thesis should be brought round for a tune-up. There may be something worthwhile in here, but it isn’t immediately obvious.

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

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2 Responses to Why humans are more compassionate than cats?

  1. Human babies are relatively helpless for several years. For kittens, the time line is far shorter.

    Keltner seems to be spinning an evolutionary psych “Just So” story. I don’t entirely rule it out, but I suspect that he has a lot wrong.

  2. Neil Rickert, that’s true, but cats don’t live so long as humans either. ;) And there is so much less they must learn to do.

    Some of us find it interesting that babies are born able to see and hear, at least in principle. Doubtless, they get a head start that way.

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