In this thoughtful RSA presentation professor Jeremy Rifkin talks about what ultimately motivates human beings from the moment they are born. Contrary to previous visions of society and humanity, he dispels the view that newborns are first and foremost motivated by utilitarian desires, the will to survive and the need to extinguish their libido. He suggests that our first drive as humans is the drive to belong and that we are naturally softwired towards empathetic behaviour to feel another’s plight because of mirror neurons in our brains. We are not softwired for aggression and materialism rather we are softwired for attachment, companionship and sociability. When talking about an empathetic civilization we are not talking about Utopia or heaveb where there is no such thing as suffering; because in order to feel empathy one needs to experience frailties, pain and weaknesses.
Rifkin also makes it clear that if we are not able to extend our empathy beyond the human species, we have no future on the planet. He also asks the audience to consider how empathy has changed across history and how it has affected consciousness. And as a species can we shift our consciousness?