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Old 2011-05-07, 07:47   Link #13537
Knight Errant
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Age: 30
Originally Posted by GundamFan0083 View Post
I wish I knew best.

Seriously though, I do agree that in some cases feelings of superiority are beneficial.
However, the subject matter is Baron-Cohen's claim of what constitutes "evil" and that's the angle I was taking with superiority.
That a need or desire for power is why an individual commits heinous acts and not a lack of empathy.
I think Power is only a means to an end. They want it for either just or unjust reasons. The end is more important. An sociopathic person will want power for their own sadistic reasons, a more idealistic person may want it to implement what they believe to be right, and sometimes you get a bit of both. For instance, Hitler wanted Power not just for himself, but so that he could make Germany great again, he was devoted to it. He was also somewhat deranged, but I don't think extraordinarily so. I doubt Hitler himself was a psychopath. He had simply made a "foreign" group into an evil enemy in his mind. Contrast how certain americans behaved after 9/11 demonising Arabs, it's the same process.

No they killed everybody they didn't like.
I didn't emphasise right, they didn't only kill jews, but there goal was only to kill jews (and other "enemies" or weakeners of Germany EG communists, Homosexuals, Disabled...). Amazing the difference a stress makes.

The Nazis did wish to instill fear into the world, and they knew how to do it by using an understanding of peoples feelings against them.
I don't think fear was their end goal. Their goal was greatness for Germany, to remake the world according to how they saw it.
Alexander Kimel (an actual Holocaust survivor) gives a good example:
"You may wonder why prisoners who has just gotten off the trains did not revolt, waiting as they did of hours (sometimes of days!) to enter the gas chambers... The Germans had perfected a diabolically clever and versatile system of collective death. In most cases the new arrivals did not know what awaited them. They were received with cold efficiency but without bestiality, invited to undress "for the showers". Sometimes they were handed soap and towels and were promised hot coffee after their showers. The gas chambers were, in fact, camouflaged as shower rooms, with pipes, faucets, dressing rooms, clothes hooks, benches and sort of. When, instead prisoners showed the smallest sign of knowing or suspecting their imminent fate, the S.S. and their collaborators used surprise tactics, intervening with extreme brutality, with shouts, threats, kicks, shots, losing their dogs, which were trained to tear prisoners to pieces, against people who were confused, desperate, weakened by five or ten days of traveling in sealed railroad cars."
I think that coroborates what I said. The Concentration camps were not designed to inflict maximum pain on their captives (if it was, they would have attempted to keep em alive longer), and indeed they often went in not knowing they were about to die. The routine SS brutality I think was more a result of the fact that there was no punishment for such behaviour, and the captives were already seen as subhuman, it's also a similiar scenario to the stanford prison experiment.

When the SS told their victims things like "we're taking you to a better place" it was to assuage their fears.
The SS knew their victims were fearful, because they understood their feelings.
That's empathy, or if you prefer, abuse of empathy by a vile group of political zealots.
I think they only understood it was fearful in the sense that I can tell an animal is fearful, I still can't really fully empathise, nor do I usually want to. There attitude was similiar to the staff of a slaughterhouse, the staff of a slaughterhouse don't want the animals to be fearful as it messes things up, creates inefficency. Are they really empathising with the animals though? I doubt it.

I disagree.
People can have compassion without understanding a person's feelings.
I think one requires sympathy, but not empathy, to be compassionate.
Since sympathy requires you to care about someone else and empathy does not.
Empathy only requires that you understand their plight/feelings.
Sympathy and empathy are not the same thing.
You are right, that they all aren't the same thing. Empathy is the most complex of them all though, and not a raw requirement of either of the other two. A child can feel some Sympathy and compassion, but doesn't really have a capacity for empathy, the ability to look beyond yourself and fully look from the other person's point of view.

I'm sorry you have me at a disadvantage.
I don't watch television, so I've never seen 24 (had to google it to find out what it was and what you meant).
Nevertheless, I'll attempt to answer you the best I can.
If we don't care for the terrorist in the TV show it's because we have no sympathy for him.
If the show's written well we will understand his/her feelings in the interrogation room, and thus will be able to empathize with that character's situation.
Uh...I'm sure that certain forms of "enhanced interrogation" actually works.
It's how the CIA found Osama Bin Laden.
I haven't seen much of 24 myself, I only know that it "glamourises" torture. A bit of psychological games (EG good cop, bad cop) is one thing, but all forms of torture, using pain or psychological trauma is wrong, and does not work. A torturee will tell you exactly what they think you want them to say, not the truth. How can you tell whether a tortured person told the truth or not? You can't, they might have told the truth, you torture them anyway, then to get you to stop, they tell a lie, what they think you want to hear. Doesn't work. Besides that, it's also morally and ethically repugnant, and often the torturers end out taking perverse pleasure from it. Look at Abu Ghraib. It traumatises the torturee(who may be innocent), and makes the torturer into a brute.

Oh I agree.
However, the torturer has to use his own knowledge of what a person will feel during the torture in order to get the desired result of his subject divulging information.
Otherwise he's not much of an interrogator.
That's where empathy comes into play and sympathy goes out the proverbial window.
See above, there are means to get people to talk, physical and psychological trauma are not one of them (though the threat of it may work at the outset, not after it's been done though).

Oh absolutely.
Psychopaths being the worst.
In abnormal psychology we're taught that the psychopath views others as "paper-mache," and there is an ongoing debate as to whether they simply lack sympathy for others or if they really are unable to understand other people's feelings entirely.
The Psychopath also has no empathy, but they can fake it in order to fit in.
This facade often flounders when they have prolonged or intimate interaction with other people since their view of the world is greatly hampered by their disorder.
Normally a psychopath attempts to alter reality to fit their view of it rather than altering their view to fit reality.
The problem with many sociopaths (among which psychopaths are a sub-group) is that they do understand the feelings of the people they hurt, and they get off on it, Sadists being among the worst offenders in this case.
Here's a link to a site that describes various types of sexual offenders (violent ones anyway).
The link is correct. Psychopaths are kind of a special category, most people are not psychopaths, and most psychopaths never rise to high positions of power. It's difficult to know whether some of the more famous dictators are psychopaths or not. I'm inclined to think some are, but most are not, and even if the dictator was a psychopath, most of his subordinates who carried out his orders were not. Either way, psychopaths can commit evil acts with no remorse, they are emotionally disabled. 4% of people are psychopaths, but 96% aren't, what causes those 96% to commit cruel and evil acts? Something special has to occur to allow someone "normal" to do so. I think for a normal person to actively harm another person, they need to convince themselves that that person is something other then human.

Most do empathize with their victims and thus feel a charge of power from what they're doing to them.
Using the rape example again.
One of the best ways to know whether a rapist has empathy (understanding) for his/her victim is to ask that person if they'd like to be raped.
More often than not they'll say no, which indicates they understand what their victim is feeling, they just don't care (have sympathy or compassion).
I'd put sex crimes as another special category, some non-psychopaths do get off on "forceful" sex and power dynamics, and are otherwise normal, they're simply swept up in the moment and can't restrain their libido (I do think that when people are sexually aroused, including myself, our personality changes a bit, and it's difficult to stop). More premeditated rape however, is a bit different though, and may be a result of psychopathic tendencies.
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