Caring Economics: Conversations on Altruism and Compassion, Between Scientists, Economists, and the Dalai Lama

Edited by Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard. Picador, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-06412-7
Since 1987, Zurich’s Mind & Life Institute has held annual conferences with the Dalai Lama and scientists from various disciplines. This volume presents the results of the April 2010 session, on “Altruism and Compassion in Economic Systems.” Editors Singer and Ricard massaged the raw transcripts into a narrative addressing key questions of our time, such as how we can reconcile altruism with the need for financial growth, and how we can narrow the divide between rich and poor. In addition to the Dalai Lama—who is present throughout—contributors include experimental social psychologist Dan Batson; co-editors Singer and Ricard, a neuroscientist and Buddhist monk, respectively; professor of psychology Richard Davidson; microeconomics professor Ernst Fehr; professor of religion John Dunne; and asset-management company CEO Antoinette Hunziker-Ebneter. They discuss such subjects as the egoism-altruism debate; the neurological basis of empathy, compassion, and altruism; “Buddhist economics”; the link between happiness levels and economics; and microfinance. The variety of academic perspectives is intriguing, but what ties this collection together is the Dalai Lama’s charm, grace, and intelligence. Though the book’s audience will likely be limited, the more idealistically inclined “masters of the universe” should find it riveting and inspiring. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/2015
Release date: 04/07/2015
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-250-06416-5
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-250-07122-4
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