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6) “Empathy without sympathy is dangerous; sympathy without empathy is blind.” Comment.(250 words)

Topic– Foundational values for civil service

6) “Empathy without sympathy is dangerous; sympathy without empathy is blind.” Comment.(250 words)


Directive word

Comment- here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.

Key demand of the question.

The question wants us to express our knowledge and understanding about empathy and sympathy and form an opinion as to whether empathy without sympathy is dangerous and whether sympathy without empathy blind. We have to support our opinion with substantial and valid arguments and facts.

Structure of the answer

Introduction– write a few introductory lines about the  meaning of empathy e.g ability to comprehend the emotional state of the other person etc.


  1. Discuss the meaning and scope of empathy and sympathy in detail. E.g Empathy means “feeling into” — the ability to project one’s personality into another person and more fully understand that person. Empathy allows you to imagine what it’s like to be me, him, or her; Sympathy means “feeling with” – the ability to project another person’s experience into our heart and feel benevolence for her etc.
  2. Discuss why empathy without sympathy can be dangerous. E.g Empathy is cognitive. It is the capacity to infer how another person senses, feels and thinks. It doesn’t mean anything more than ‘I am aware what it feels like to be in your shoes and see the world from where you are.’ It is a purely operational concept without moral value. You can be a very empathetic psychopath. In fact, the most dangerous psychopaths are highly empathetic etc.
  3. Discuss why sympathy without empathy is blind. E.g Sympathy allows you to feel compassion and concern for others; You can’t relate effectively until you see the world the way others do. But to relate effectively with another human being you also need sympathy. You cannot appreciate others in a mature way until you respect them, accept the legitimacy of their perspectives and take them on sympathetically.

Give real life examples to illustrate your point and score better marks.

Conclusion– based on your discussion, form a fair and a balanced conclusion on the given issue.