Art and Empathy

Empathy is a term we hear a lot, but what does it mean and how does it work? Looking back through art history, we find many moments when art has allowed us to share in the feelings of others, from Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, to representations of the Buddhist deity Jizō Bosatsu, along with the Röttgen Pietà, Guáman Poma’s First New Chronicle and Good Government, the ink drawings of Chittaprosad and Zainul Abedin, the work of Ghana Think Tank, and more.
#art #AParthistory #empathy

Thanks to our Grandmasters of the Arts Vincent Apa and Ernest Wolfe, and all of our patrons, especially Iain Eudaily, Patrick Hanna, Nichole Hicks, Eve Leonard, David Moore, Frame Monster Design Laboratory, Jane Quale, Constance Urist, and Nicholas Xu. To support our channel, visit:

This episode was made in partnership with Smarthistory, the most-visited art history website in the world ( Subscribe to their channel today:…

Goya’s The Third of May 1808:…
Röttgen Pietà:…
Jizō Bosatsu:…
Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala:……
Zainul Abedin:…
Käthe Kollwitz:…
Vietnam Veterans Memorial:…
Alfredo Jaar’s Rwanda Project:…
Ghana ThinkTank:

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Laughter is vital | Aeon

Emily Herring is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ghent in Belgium. She is the co-editor of The Past, Present, and Future of Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (2019).

A Catholic nun and a young Hispanic immigrant in Central Park, New York, 1976. Photo by Richard Kalvar/Magnum


For philosopher Henri Bergson, laughter solves a serious human conundrum: how to keep our minds and social lives elastic


In a Monty Python sketch from 1970, a cheesy game show host (John Cleese) asks an ill-tempered, racist, uncooperative old lady contestant (Terry Jones) a ludicrously challenging question. The exchange unfolds as follows:

Cleese: What great opponent of Cartesian dualism resists the reduction of psychological phenomena to physical states?
Jones: I don’t know that!
Cleese: Well, have a guess.
Jones: Henri Bergson.
Cleese: Is the correct answer!
Jones: Ooh, that was lucky. I never even heard of him!

The Pythons were well-versed in the history of philosophy (and in the drinking habits of Western philosophers). It therefore didn’t escape them that this particular French philosopher was also the author of a popular essay that focused on a phenomenon all comedians take very seriously: laughter.

Before Bergson, few philosophers had given laughter much thought. The pre-Socratic thinker Democritus was nicknamed the ‘laughing philosopher’ for espousing cheerfulness as a way of life. However, we know more about his thoughts on atomism than on laughter. Similarly, the section of Aristotle’s Poetics that dealt with comedy hasn’t come down to us. Other major thinkers who have offered passing, often humourless, reflections about humour include Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, who believed that we laugh because we feel superior; Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer who argued that comedy stems from a sense of incongruity; and Herbert Spencer and Sigmund Freud who suggested that comedians provide a form of much-needed relief (from, respectively, ‘nervous energy’ and repressed emotions). Bergson was unconvinced by these accounts. He believed that the problem of laughter deserved more than a few well-worded digressions. Although his theory retained elements of the incongruity and superiority theories of humour, it also opened entirely new perspectives on the problem.

The Monty Pythons could safely assume that Bergson’s name would come across as particularly obscure to an anglophone audience – the sketch plays on the incongruity of the old lady plucking this unfamiliar name from the air. However, when Bergson’s Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic(1900) was published, his philosophy was discussed in most intellectual circles and, a few years later, he would become one of the most famousthinkers in the world. Why did a philosopher of such renown deviate from his more traditional and serious philosophical obsessions – the nature of time, memory, perception, free will and the mind-body problem – to focus on the apparently frivolous case-studies of slapstick, vaudeville and word play? And what was there to be gained from such analysis? The topic was a ticklish one. Laughter, wrote Bergson, had ‘a knack of baffling every effort, of slipping away and escaping only to bob up again, a pert challenge flung at philosophic speculation’. It was almost as though there was something unnatural about subjecting one of the most pleasurable and ubiquitous human experiences to dry philosophical speculation. Anyone who has ever had to explain their own joke knows that comedy cannot survive that sort of analysis. As the American authors E B White and Katharine S White put it in 1941:

Humour can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the purely scientific mind.

While his book on laughter is hardly a rib-tickling read, Bergson didn’t wish to adopt the attitude of an anatomist observing a frog’s dead insides. He believed that laughter should be studied as ‘a living thing’ and treated ‘with the respect due to life’. His investigation was therefore more like that of a field zoologist observing frogs in the wild:

we shall not aim at imprisoning the comic spirit within a definition … We shall confine ourselves to watching it grow and expand.

Like all good metaphorical field zoologists, Bergson started his study by familiarising himself with his metaphorical frog’s natural habitat: in other words, the conditions under which laughter is most likely to appear and thrive. Following this method, Bergson arrived at three general observations.[…]

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What does a 1920s BIRTHDAY CAKE taste like?

I make myself a chocolate birthday cake using a 100 year old recipe, and I explore the history of birthday cake and why we put candles on them.

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SUPER – CHOCOLATE CAKE – (Based on the Annie Gray interpretation in The Downton Abbey Cookbook:
(For the cake)
– 1 cup (225g) butter at room temperature, plus more for the pan
– 3/4 cup (90g) flour, plus more for the pan –
– 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (225g) superfine sugar, plus more for the pan –
– 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (115g) almond flour –
– 1 tsp baking powder
– A pinch of salt
– 1/2 lb (225g) bittersweet chocolate –
– 6 large eggs (or 7 medium)
– 1 tsp vanilla extract –

(For the icing)
– 1 cup (115g) powdered sugar
– 2-3 tbsp cherry or orange liqueur

Super-Chocolate Cake. Half a pound fresh butter beaten to a cream, 7 eggs (yolks and whites beaten separately, and the whites stirred in the last thing), 1/2 lb. best vanilla chocolate grated and heated in oven, then beaten up in the butter with 3 oz. dried flour, 1/2 lb. sifted sugar, 4 oz. ground almonds, 1 teaspoon of sal volatile. Bake in a slack oven, then ice with a thin soft icing flavored with maraschino. If ingredients are thoroughly beaten up it will be very light.

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and butter the bottom and sides of the pan. Then dust with a mixture of flour and sugar and coat the entire pan, tapping out the excess.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk gently to blend.
3. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.
4. Separate the eggs into two bowls. Beat yolks to blend, then stir in the vanilla. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
5. In a bowl, cream together the butter and superfine sugar until mixed. Mix in the melted chocolate. Mix in a spoonful of the flour mixture to prevent curdling, then gradually beat in the egg yolk mixture. Gradually fold in the remaining flour mixture. Add about one-fourth of the beaten egg whites, folding in just until no white streaks remain. Fold in the remaining egg whites the same way. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
6. Place cake in oven and turn temperature down to 250°F/120°C. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 75 – 90 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then turn out onto the rack and peel off the parchment. Turn the cake upright and serve plain or with icing.
7. If making the icing, put the powdered sugar into a bowl, whisk in enough of the liqueur to make a soft pourable icing, and pour over the cake or, make a stiffer icing, and spread on with an offset spatula.

The Downton Abbey Cookbook – Annie Gray:

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Tânio Mendonça, Brazilian Carnaval Samba Composer, Dies at 52 — News Territory

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here. The refrain of Tânio Mendonça’s final samba song was definitely of the moment. It called on people to maintain distance, wash their hands and be patient. In stark contrast to the Carnaval marches he normally […]

Tânio Mendonça, Brazilian Carnaval Samba Composer, Dies at 52 — News Territory
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Covid-19 survivor, 104, gets back to crosswords and crochet


[ad_1] Image copyright Crystal Apollonia Image caption When Grace contracted Covid-19 she told her granddaughter it was “water off a duck’s back” Crosswords and crochet might be new hobbies for some people during the coronavirus pandemic, but they have kept Grace Greenwood mentally agile for some time. Her daily exercise regime could help explain the […]

Covid-19 survivor, 104, gets back to crosswords and crochet

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How Did Giant Pterosaurs Fly?

The largest pterosaurs like Quetzalcoatlus were closer in size to airplanes than birds. No flying animal alive today comes close to their huge size. So did giant pterosaurs actually fly? I went to see the fossil bones of the largest pterosaur that ever lived so I could learn how these winged giants actually took to the skies.

Watch Emily’s new show “Prehistoric Road Trip” on PBS and Amazon Prime starting June 17, 2020!!!…

Special thanks:
Michael Habib, Ph.D.
Matthew Brown/University of Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collection


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Everybody Loves The Sunshine ft. Bas van Lier // FREE DL

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Conceptual Photographs by Can Dagarslani and Sophie Bogdan Fall at the Intersection of Joy and Absurdity

A Berlin-based creative duo, photographer Can Dagarslani and model Sophie Bogdan consider the curvature and adaptability of the human body in a series of quirky, spirited photographs.

Generally shot outdoors with only natural light, each image employs heavily composed elements of color, space, perspective, and texture, whether captured through a trail of black balloons, a playful shadow figure, or a rigid Bogdan resting on a mossy terrain. The conceptual photographs explore the intersections of social dynamics, relationships, identity, and love.[…]

More: Conceptual Photographs by Can Dagarslani and Sophie Bogdan Fall at the Intersection of Joy and Absurdity

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Alfred Fauchet, à droite, à gauche

Alfred veut se désencombrer mais s’éparpille, sa voiture avance mais trop vite.

Alfred wants to get rid of things, but gets lost in the process. The car is moving, but too fast.

Animated and directed by Mathieu Georis

Price and selection

The animation guild award for best student animation at Ottawa International Animation Festival, Canada
Best Student Film at Primanima, Hungary

Anima, Belgium
Animamundi, Brasil
Animest, Romania
ALTER-NATIVE 27, Romania
Imaginaria, Italia
Cartòn International Animated Short Films Festival, Argentina
Linoleum, Ukraine
SESIFF, South Korea
Festival International du premier court métrage, France
On the road Online Festival, Hungary

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