Why are we selfish and not compassionate

Empathic Individualism - Are We Getting More Selfish?

Mr. Horx, are we becoming more and more selfish?

The mistake is confusing egoism with individuality. Individualization is the shaping of one's own, the development of character. It has a lot to do with maturity and social intelligence. Without individuality we cannot be social, because then there is only dependency, bondage. But perhaps the common culture-pessimistic pessimistic diagnoses of time are also wrong in a completely different way. Insofar as we have not too little, but TOO MUCH empathy. We are terrified by the media around the clock and this confuses our inner sympathy system. Who should we empathize with? Who should we give our empathy to, with all this suffering? Cognitive researchers have found that especially compassionate people tend to construct a rigid "we". The vicious populism we are experiencing today is a kind of misdirection of empathy. You love "your own" and devalue everyone else, right down to the Hate. This is a kind of re-tribalization, or a kind of collective egoism.

Just a few decades ago, values ​​such as the fulfillment of duty and performance had priority. Today more than 80 percent of Germans want to "enjoy life". What are the reasons for this?

Hedonistic attitudes, i.e. orientation towards the enjoyment of life, are the characteristic of prosperity, it liberates from norms and constraints - in the name of duty tyranny is also easily possible. However, there is also the effect of “hedonistic wear and tear”, we all know this from experience that the second bottle of red wine no longer tastes as good as the first, and if you focus your whole life exclusively on enjoyment, it becomes horrible at some point bland and dreary. We are at this point today because consumption and commercialization have progressed so radically that everything is missed and profaned, including enjoyment, which actually has something to do with taste, distinction and individuality. That is why the longings for meaning, transcendence and relationship keep coming back.

You are watching the parenting trend towards more stubbornness. Autonomy is more important than loyalty. Having fun is more important than taking responsibility. Doesn't this behavior also harbor dangers in a society? Are we talking about a decline in values?

Values ​​cannot expire, but in different forms of society they are simply described and defined anew over and over again. Since the '68 revolt, child-rearing has actually been less repressive and authoritarian, more seeking consensus and encouragement. But that can also be exaggerated, as the phenomenon of the helicopter parents shows, who regard their children as the highest expression of their own self-realization and turn them into narcissistic princes and princesses. Then that's really selfish. But this has nothing to do with a decline in values, rather with an exaggeration and extremization of feelings of care. What I see as more of a danger are the narcissistic illusions that arise from the internet. Anyone who has 10,000 friends on Facebook is often terribly lonely. We need new relationship culture techniques for the digital age, in which we say goodbye to the illusion that one could, so to speak, digitally replace one's social existence.

You perceive a countermovement to this development. How is this characterized?

Every trend creates a countertrend, and trend and countertrend give rise to new syntheses - this is how progress develops towards greater complexity. Today there are many new, "individualized" forms of cooperation that are combined with the prefix "Co-": Co-Working, Co-Gardening, Co-Living, Co-Mobility. In modern society, people cooperate more than ever, only they want to do so on the basis of more freedom and variability. More than ever, people are looking for love and attachment, but they no longer want to give up their own identity at the altar. This creates a new ideal of love in which you develop individually with and through your partner. I call this "co-evolutionary love".