I wouldn't have thought that "empathy" was something requiring a lot of academic study -- people either have it, or they don't, and the ones who do are generally better off (and more civilized) than the ones who don't. But Indiana University has snagged a $199,617 grant from the University of Chicago to correct the lack of study of an emotion "that is as widely valued as it is under-theorized." Damn those under-theorized emotions! This is intriguing:
Finally, the team will explore how to distinguish virtuous empathy from less praiseworthy varieties. "A sadist can be empathic," Miller points out.
Kind of puts a new spin on Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" posturings, doesn't it? "I feel your pain -- heh, heh, heh -- and I'm going to cause a lot more of it."