Can You Feel It? Four Experts Discuss Empathy in Guggenheim Forum

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Neuroscientist Peggy Mason, computer scientist G. Anthony Gorry, and writer Meghan Falvey convene this week to discuss the emotion the arguably defines us as human: empathy.

The panel, moderator by journalist and Psychology Today writer Lynne Soraya, will investigate empathy in a variety of ways, looking at subjects including the neural and evolutionary fundamentals of our capacity to connect, its ability to cross cultural boundaries, its relationship to morality, and how it is affected by the contemporary mediascape and the resultant shattering and reconfiguration of social relations.

The group’s discussion unfolds over one week a part of the Guggenheim Forum, the museum’s ongoing series of moderated online discussions catalyzing intelligent conversation on the arts, architecture, and design. Several times each year, experts from a variety of fields inquire into and debate topics related to the museum’s exhibition program. “The Greater Good” will include a one-hour live chat with members of our panel at 3 pm on Thursday, September 27, and is presented in concert with the exhibition Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, through October 8, 2012.

“The Greater Good” includes as participants an exemplary group of thinkers from the worlds of computer science, experimental neuroscience, and sociology.

Tony Gorry is the Friedkin Chair of Management and Professor of Computer Science at Rice University and an Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine. He has written on the subject of human relations in the heavily mediatized contemporary environment,

Peggy Mason, professor of neurobiology at the University of Chicago, recently garnered worldwide attention with work that established that rats recognize and act deliberately to relieve the distress of their fellows.

Meghan Falvey is a New York-based writer whose work focuses on affective labor and inequality. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including n+1.

Moderator Lynne Soraya is a pseudonymous writer and journalist with Asperger’s syndrome. She writes the Asperger's Diary blog for Psychology Today.