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Professor Gary Olson Writes Book Examining Empathy as it Relates to American Culture

Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the BrainBethlehem, Pa., January 28, 2013 –Political Science Professor Gary Olson recently authored the book, Empathy Imperiled: Capitalism, Culture, and the Brain published by Springer Verlag Press (Dec., 2012). Empathy Imperiled offers a provocative, empirically-grounded dissent from capitalism’s narrative about human nature. It offers a unique perspective on America’s current political culture and process that is useful for students and scholars in political science, psychology, anthropology, and several related fields.

Olson, chair of the Political Science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. has been writing a blog on the political implications of recent neuroscience research findings on empathy for the past few years. “Empathy is putting oneself in another’s emotional and cognitive shoes and then acting appropriately. The evolutionary process has given rise to a hard-wired neural system, described as “the most radical of human emotions, that equips us to connect with one another,” Olson notes. “But this critical connection has been short-circuited by the dynamic convergence of culture, politics and the brain under the hegemonic influence of neoliberal capitalism.”

The book explores this process through sections on education, the neoliberal state, neuromarketing, corporations, militarization, mass culture, film, photo images and media. The book answers questions such as: how does the system blunt, bracket off and or otherwise channel empathy’s revolutionary potential? And what does this reveal about how the world works and especially, how it might work better?

The book, Olson's fourth, explores how the system blunts, brackets off and otherwise channels empathy's liberating potential. Olson writes that the evolutionary process has given rise to a hard-wired neural system that equips us to connect with one another. He argues that empathy, the "most radical of human emotions," has been short-circuited by the dynamic convergence of culture, politics and the brain under the dominant influence of hegemonic neoliberal capitalism.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America’s sixth-oldest college. Moravian partners with students to build a strong foundation for their future. Visit the College’s Web site at www.moravian.edu.