Zero Degrees of Empathy: A new theory of human cruelty

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Penguin Books Limited, Dec 21, 2011 - Psychology - 208 pages
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In Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty and Kindness Simon Baron-Cohen takes fascinating and challenging new look at what exactly makes our behaviour uniquely human.

How can we ever explain human cruelty?

We have always struggled to understand why some people behave in the most evil way imaginable, while others are completely self-sacrificing. Is it possible that - rather than thinking in terms of 'good' and 'evil' - all of us instead lie somewhere on the empathy spectrum, and our position on that spectrum can be affected by both genes and our environments?

From the Nazi concentration camps of World War Two to the playgrounds of today, Simon Baron-Cohen examines empathy, cruelty and understanding in a groundbreaking study of what it means to be human.

'Fascinating ... dazzling ... a full-scale assault on what we think it is to be human' Sunday Telegraph

'Highly readable ... this is a valuable book' Charlotte Moore, Spectator

'Important ... humane and immensely sympathetic' Richard Holloway, Literary Review

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kk1 - LibraryThing

This book is like a catch 22 on empathy and I say that after mulling it over for a few weeks. I wasn't keen to read it, because I am not keen on the phrase - "extreme male brain theory of autism". I ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - themythbookshelf - LibraryThing

Baron-Cohen begins with a couple of grappling chapters on the concept of evil, calling for the more appropriate and less abstract phrase "empathy erosion". He admits that though we are all capable of ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor at Cambridge University in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. He is also the Director of Cambridge's internationally-renowned Autism Research Centre. He has carried out research into social neuroscience over a career spanning twenty years. The Essential Difference (Penguin 2003) has been translated in over a dozen languages and put forward the theory of 'the extreme male brain'.

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