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people greet each other as a collection of attributes; job, opinions, attractiveness, age, sex, dress, nationality, sociability, conformity, agreeableness and what not, which are then assessed much as we would a business opportunity


Because all living beings have to maintain homeostasis -- i.e. an internal state within relatively narrow parameters --, such an attitude is rational. To the extent empathy advances one's goal of keeping alive & promotes reproduction, it is an useful trait. But the amount of empathy one practices itself is subject to limits: unreasonable amounts of empathy predisposes one to become victim of conmen, thereby lowering one's own biological fitness. An example is when people donate to false claimants of suffering from cancer (or other deadly disease).

Discernment is indeed important -- including the capability to discern where empathy is counterproductive. Psychopaths (intraspecies predators) often demand empathy from their marks; undiscerning acquiescence to such demands leads to psychic & material losses for the indiscriminately empathetic. Excessive amounts of empathy is just as destructive as anything else: even clean water can kill someone if too much of it is consumed in too short period of time.

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