Written by Amy Busek.
If you ever find yourself in a conversation with Dr. James Doty, a pioneering neurosurgeon who revolutionized the idea that empathy and compassion are biological traits, don’t offer up Darwinian logic as a counter-argument.
“A lot of people quote Darwin, saying, ‘Survival of the fittest,’” he said. “But that quote is not from Darwin. It’s from Herbert Spencer, a biologist writing about economics.”
Spencer, according to Doty, meant fitness in the scientific sense, meaning species best suited for a given environment-not a general “only the cream of the crop” attitude propagated by Social Darwinians.
“[Darwin advocated for] survival of the most sympathetic,” Doty said.
Doty will give a lecture, “The Science of Compassion,” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. It’s a free event hosted by the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation.
Doty said he’ll go over the evolutionary construct that compels us to be concerned about the welfare and suffering of others. Compassion, as more and more research is showing, leads to a longer life and better mental health. With fans like Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama, Doty works with a team of scientists to study how the human brain internalizes altruism and compassion and their longer-term effects on overall health.
To read the full article, click here.