Empathy, Altruism & Agape:Perspectives on Love in Science and Religion
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October 1-3, 1999, University Park Hotel at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Path Home: Empathy, Altruism and Agape | Presenters or Itinerary

Pearl M. Oliner is Professor Emeritus of Education at Humboldt State University and the Research Director of the Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute. Her books include: Toward a Caring Society: Ideas into Action (Praeger, 1995, co-author, Samuel P. Oliner), Embracing the Other: Philosophical, Psychological, and Historical Perspectives on Altruism (New York University Press, 1992, editor), The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe (The Free Press, 1988, co-author, Samuel P. Oliner), and Teaching Elementary Social Studies: A Rational and Humanistic Approach (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976). She is currently investigating the influence of religion, gender and national culture on outgroup altruism.
Ingroup and Outgroup Altruism: Protestants and Catholics

Many studies of altruism have focused on personality dispositions, oftentimes in conjunction with situational variables (Eisenberg, 1986; Schroeder et.al., 1995; Oliner & Oliner, 1988, 1992). The study of cultural dispositions in relation to altruism is far less common. Yet culture-more or less shared ways of thinking, feeling and acting among people who share a common identity-has a strong influence on the personality of individuals. There are hundreds of cultures throughout the world, and individuals belong to multiple cultures, including occupational, socioeconomic, and national cultures. Among them, religion is a particularly important one. Interventions to enhance altruism are likely to be more effective if cultural contexts were better understood.

According to sociologist Lester Kurtz (1995), Christians almost universally believe that “one should love they neighbor.” Whether “love” means altruism is not entirely clear, and whether “neighbor” includes ingroup members as well as outgroups is also not clear. Given that Christians include Catholics and Protestants, each of whom has a distinct religious tradition and culture-the latter acquired through networking with other co-religionists in a variety of religious and other social activities‹how might each respond to these questions? More specifically, how might Catholics and Protestants be similar and/or different with respect to altruistic values generally and approaches toward ingroup and outgroup altruism?

Beginning with Max Weber almost a hundred years ago, Protestant culture, as compared with Catholic culture, is more often described as individualistic; that is the self is usually defined as independent, and personal and communal goals as divergent (Triandis, 1995; Kurtz, 1995; Lenski, 1961). It has also more often been described as a “masculine” culture (Erikson, 1958; Jung, 1952; Ulanov, 1971). In individualistic and masculine cultures, ties between individuals are allegedly loose, implying that they are not very likely to engage in either ingroup or outgroup altruism.

By way of contrast, Catholic culture is purportedly more collectivist (Tropman 1995, Hofstede, 1991)-interdependent and perceiving personal and communal goals as convergent-and feminine (Greeley, 1989, 1990). In collectivist and feminine societies, ties among individuals in the group are allegedly close, implying that they are more likely to engage in ingroup altruism but are unlikely to engage in outgroup altruism (Fiske, 1991). Feminine cultures, on the other hand, are sometimes asserted to be high on both ingroup and outgroup altruism (Hofstede, 1991).

Not all scholars agree about these alleged characteristics, and several argue that matters are far more complex. Data on Protestant and Catholic rescuers and nonrescuers of Jews during the Holocaust collected by the Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute offer a basis for exploring this issue. Rescuers included Protestants and Catholics, indicating that both groups had the capacity for outgroup altruism, albeit in very small numbers. The data suggest that Protestants differed significantly from Catholics in several important ways, and that their approaches to altruism, ingroup and outgroup, reflected different cultural styles. The purpose of this presentation is to explore these differences and their possible implications.

Friday, October 1, 1999

Elliott Sober, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin
Mapping the Conceptual Terrain

Leda Cosmides, Ph.D. & John Tooby,Ph.D.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Friendship, engagement, and the Banker’s Paradox: Other pathways to the Evolution of Altruism

William H. Durham, Ph.D.
Stanford University
The Role of Culture in the Evolution of Altruism

David Sloan Wilson, Ph.D.
Binghamton University SUNY
The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Altruism in Evolutionary Theory: Discussion with Audience

Frans B. M. de Waal, Ph. D.
Emory University, Yerkes Primate Living Links Center
Communication of Emotions and the Possibility of Sympathy in Monkeys and Apes

Antonio R. Damasio, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Iowa Hospital
The Neurobiology of Emotion

Hanna Damasio, M.D.
University of Iowa Hospital
Impaired Emotion and Social Behavior Following Brain Damage

William B. Hurlbut, M.D.
Stanford University
Empathy, Evolution and Ethics

Rev. Eugene Rivers
Ella J. Baker House

Saturday, October 2, 1999

Thomas R. Insel, M.D.
Emory University, Yerkes Primate Center
The Molecular Biology of Monogamy

Greg Fricchione, M.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Brain Evolution: Separation, Attachment and Agape

Jerome Kagan, Ph.D.
Harvard University
The Human Moral Sense

Don Browning, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago
Agape, Empathy and the Foundational/Nonfoundational Debate

Joan Eads, Zone Coordinator
L’Arche USA

Jeffrey P. Schloss, Ph.D. Westmont College
Is It Really More Blessed to Give than to Receive?: Emerging Questions in the Evolution of Radical Altruism

Edith Wyschogrod, Ph.D.
Rice University Pythagorean Bodies and the Body of Altruism

Stephen J. Pope, Ph.D.
Boston College
The Ordering of Love

Rev. Robert Hamerton-Kelly
Woodside Village Church
Emergence of Radical Love in the Biblical Tradition

Dame Cicely Saunders
St. Christopher’s Hospice

Sunday, October 3, 1999

Samuel P. Oliner, Ph.D.
Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute
Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People: Faces of Heroism and Altruism

Pearl Oliner, Ph.D.
California State University - Humboldt
Ingroup and Outgroup Altruism: Protestants and Catholics

Kristen Renwick Monroe, Ph.D.
University of California
How Identity and Perspective Constrain Choice

Dan Batson, Ph.D.
University of Kansas
Addressing the Altruism Question Experimentally

V.S. Ramachandran, Ph.D.
University of California, San Diego
Neural Basis of Empathy and of Artistic Experience

Lynn G. Underwood, Ph.D.
Fetzer Institute
The Human Experience of Agape & Compassion: Conceptual Mapping and Data from Selected Studies

Ruben L.F. Habito, Ph.D.
Southern Methodist University
Compiversity Pythagorean Bodies and the Body of Altruism

Stephen J. Pope, Ph.D.
Boston College
The Ordering of Love

Rev. Robert Hamerton-Kelly
Woodside Village Church
Emergence of Radical Love in the Biblical Tradition

Dame Cicely Saunders
St. Christopher’s Hospice

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