This Dialogue focuses on the study of altruism and compassion in Western science. It addresses these topics from a highly multidisciplinary perspective since altruism and compassion are clearly significant for both the social and life sciences. A historical perspective on the role of compassion in science, and the bias in the study of negative rather than positive psychological states in the behavioral sciences, are first considered. The role of altruism in evolutionary biology is examined, and its relevance to understanding human motivation is discussed. The characteristics that determine whether people help other people in need will be another focus.

LOCATION: Dharamsala, India


Richard J. Davidson, PhD

Mind & Life Chief Scientific Advisor, Center for Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nancy Eisenberg, PhD

Arizona State University

Robert Frank, PhD

Cornell University

Anne Harrington, PhD

Harvard University

Thupten Jinpa, PhD

McGill University

Eliot Sober, PhD

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ervin Staub, PhD

University of Massachusetts, Amherst