Empathy, Theory of Mind, and the Loneliness of Umwelt
Inspired by Paul Ford’s essay How to Be Polite, Quinn Norton has written a fantastic piece entitled How to be Polite… for Geeks. In this article, she explores the concepts of empathy, theory of mind, and the concept of umwelt (how each of us experiences the world in very different, singular ways).
The color red, for example, is something we all know – but likely define and experience differently.
With all seven billion of us on Earth experiencing and understanding things differently, the notion of umwelt becomes a kind of sad, unbridgeable divide:
But this, Quinn argues, makes empathy all the more important. While we may never know truly what it’s like to be someone else, we should strive towards that understanding. We should try.
This is one of those articles where, again, I want to quote the whole damn thing here because it’s so good. Not only are the concepts great, but the writing is absolutely fantastic. There were so many delightful phrases, in the back of my head I was convinced that she also write poems in addition to prose. As soon as I finished this article, I immediately started following her on Twitter, with an eye towards finding more of her work to read.
I cannot recommend Quinn’s article enough. Go on over, and tap your little astronaut helmet to hers. It makes a lovely sound.
// Edit: I knew she wrote poems! Called it!