Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making

summary

By drawing parallels between artists creating with materials and everyday people conversing with other people, the book tells the story of how and why realizing empathy is at the heart of the creative process.



table of contents
  1. Foreword / Dedication / Preface.
  2. Introduction / Prologue
  3. Interview.
  4. Empathy.
  5. Realizing Empathy.
  6. Making and Empathy.
  7. Facilitating Empathy.
  8. Design and Empathy.
  9. Epilogue / Afterword.

Limited Edition Hard Cover

usd 33

acknowledgement

The printing of this limited edition hard cover was made possible in full by the 364 generous backers on Kickstarter.

published

May 2013

dimension

10" × 1.75" × 7"

author

Seung Chan Lim

binding

Smyth Sewn

page count

418

language

English

Standard Edition eBook

usd 12

included files
  • PDF
  • ePub (iBooks, Kindle)
  • MOBI (Kindle)
published

May 2013

author

Seung Chan Lim

page count

approx. 290

language

English


‘To make’ is to take on the challenge of engaging ‘others’ in a conversation.

‘Others’ we can perceive as objects ...
  • separate from us,
  • resistant to us,
  • controllable by us, ...

Whether these ‘others’ are people, characters in a story, a piece of raw material, or our limbs, we start to make greater meaning and value with them if we can learn the choice to treat them less and less as ‘others’ and more and more as partners.

The following conversations facilitated the process of writing this book:


    February 22, 2011: Empathy & Computers
    March 1, 2011: Acting & Computers
    March 19, 2011: Ethics & Computers
    April 3, 2011: Empathy & Mastery
    April 6, 2011: Choice & Feeling
    April 8, 2011: Trust & Not Expecting
    April 17, 2011: Respect & Integrity
    May 14, 2011: Language & Vision

TEDx Talks on the Book

duration

18 min 21 sec.

duration

10 min 57 sec.

Articles inspired by the Book

ux magazine
sap community network
ux booth
huffington post

Notable reviews of the Book

Founder of Sirolli Institute


TEDx speaker of Want to Help Someone? Shut Up and Listen!

dr. ernesto sirolli

This is a beautiful book, both literally and figuratively. Literally because the pagination, the graphics and care in formatting the text in the collector’s edition are extraordinary. Figuratively, because the content honestly describes a journey into difficult territory. The same territory that sent Robert Pirsig, of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance fame, mad. The maddening territory of the space between us and the object or subject of our attention (i.e. the world of relationship and interaction.)


For Seung Chan, empathy is the key to creativity and it requires both humility and courage. Humility in front of people, but also wood, glass, and metal. He tells the story of why we cannot treat wood like glass or metal like wood, that you need to respect and approach them ready to be awed and taught their secrets. And that the same is true with people. That instead of making assumptions about people or approaching them with the preconceived idea that you may help them, that we should approach if we love them enough to listen and learn from them.


The book resonated with me profoundly. It reminded me that respect is key and to respect you have to know that the people you meet are as good as you are. That the starting point in any relationship has to be the understanding that nothing of beauty will be born unless there is a profound respect for the ‘other,’ whether person or object. That, as simple as it may sound, how we interact with others is the very difference between creating beauty or not.


Primatologist & Ethologist at Emory University


TEDx speaker of Moral Behavior in Animals


Author of The Bonobo and the Atheist & The Age of Empathy

dr. frans de waal

This is not your typical read. It is more like absorbing, contemplating. Many powerful passages, sensitive and touching observations. The book is very unusual as it is no treatise, more like impressions, fragments of life, but as I said, I felt moved by this poetic view of what empathy means in modern life, in a technological world, in practice as well as theory. It is a book written with a great deal of empathy.



Co-Director of World In Conversation


TEDx speaker of Radical Experiment in Empathy

dr. sam richards

Seung Chan has written what I consider to be one of the most creative and accessible books on empathy that I have encountered.


In truth, however, it’s more than a ‘book’; it is a work of art that jump-starts creative juices. To begin, the design of the collector’s edition is thoroughly impressive. Rarely do I pick up a book that I want to keep leafing through in full appreciation of an author’s imagination and artistic skill. But each time I do that and stop on a page, I am brought back to the full realization that Slim has something meaningful to say about a topic that is so important to how we engage one another across our great social divides. The juxtaposition of personal stories and thoughtful reflections illuminates empathic connection in ways that inspire my creativity and provoke my mind.


I highly recommend this book. And I warn you that you won’t want to read it and then hide it away on a shelf. Instead, you will want to display it prominently on a coffee table where it will inspire dialogue and contemplation among your visitors.


Pictures of the Limited Edition Hard Cover

Video Vignettes related to the Book

leaving behind where i am and what i have

In 2007, a wise woman advised me to leave where I was and to let go of what I had. Why? To do something I didn’t understand. Something I wasn’t good at. Little did I know that this was the beginning of my journey into a whole new life.


In 2008, my journey began in an art school, where I conducted research into the creative process. While conducting this research, I noticed that the process of making art felt similar to learning to empathize with people I previously could not or had incorrectly assumed to understand or appreciate fully.

researching the creative process

From 2008 to 2012, I gradually focused my research efforts around the struggles artists faced in working with their materials. As I did this, it became clear to me that these struggles were the same struggles people faced in their relationship to other people. From this observation, grew a theory that eventually shed light on the creative power of empathy.

Full-Length Talks on the Book

reflecting on art school

In 2011, I took a first stab at summarizing the transformational experience I went through in art school.

book tour

In 2013, I took a first stab at summarizing the result of my research for the general audience.