That should read: “When you truly show how much you care for others, you have reached a dangerously awesome level of freedom”.

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That should read: “When you truly show how much you care for others, you have reached a dangerously awesome level of freedom”.

From a human behavioural biology perspective, caring about what someone thinks of you cannot be separated from caring about other people. The majority of humans have the (evolutionary) capacity to show both empathy and sympathy, some more and others less, and these capacities — speaking on the level of human values — become meaningless as soon as the recipient of such no longer “cares” about the expression of those capacities. In other words empathy and sympathy must be reciprocated by individuals throughout the human population, which at some level means caring about what others think. This is exactly why people who “truly don’t care what anyone thinks” of them are therefore precisely those people in our society whom we view as most abhorrent: those who cannot feel empathy or sympathy, either due to plain gene-environment interaction (what we call born sociopaths) or through dangerous, culturally grown ideology (what we call learned sociopaths). The “freedom” that these people show is truly self-interested behaviour masquerading as scientifically endorsed rationality, a falsely praised denial of altruism disguised as independence from undesirable social idiosyncrasies, which at the same time frees the individual from adhering to certain inconvenient social relations. Hence the irony: For the original formulation in the image that would be a dangerous level of freedom, but it is not awesome. For the formulation above, too much awesome altruism is seen as dangerous by elements of our society. Also hence the confusion on the part of the original poster: To show how much you care for others is only possible if at some level you truly don’t care that others will see your altruism as naive, irrational, or even worthy of condemnation — and we assume this is what the original poster meant.

-R

Further reading:
Hoffman, Martin L. (2000). Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Robert Pyotr Wolff

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