In Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty and Kindness Simon Baron-Cohen takes fascinating and challenging new look at what exactly makes our behaviour uniquely human.
How can we ever explain human cruelty?
We have always struggled to understand why some people behave in the most evil way imaginable, while others are completely self-sacrificing. Is it possible that – rather than thinking in terms of 'good' and 'evil' – all of us instead lie somewhere on the empathy spectrum, and our position on that spectrum can be affected by both genes and our environments?
Why do some people treat others as objects? Why is empathy our most precious resource? And does a lack of it always mean a negative outcome?
From the Nazi concentration camps of World War Two to the playgrounds of today, Simon Baron-Cohen examines empathy, cruelty and understanding in a groundbreaking study of what it means to be human.
'Fascinating … dazzling … a full-scale assault on what we think it is to be human'
'Highly readable … this is a valuable book'
Charlotte Moore, Spectator
'Important … humane and immensely sympathetic'
Richard Holloway, Literary Review
Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor at Cambridge University in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. He is also the Director of the Autism Research Centre there. He has carried out research into social neuroscience over a 20 year career. His popular science book entitled The Essential Difference has been translated in over a dozen languages, and has been widely reviewed.