It is impossible for the individual to reach the larger social conscience by sheer expansion, by a benevolent endeavor to be interested in all men. This leads inevitably to a tenuous filmy consciousness, a loss of grip on the realities of human beings — on the concrete man. It becomes easily a theoretical rather than a practical humanitarianism, and has often been illustrated in the world's history by the wavering and doubting of the philanthropic mind.
We can only be interested in men by knowing them — knowing them directly, thoroughly, intimately; and this knowing leads ever to the greatest of human discoveries,—the recognization [sic] of one's self in the image of one's neighbor; the sudden, startling revelation, "This is another Me, that thinks as I think, feels as I feel, suffers even as I suffer." This is the beginning, and the only true beginning, of the social conscience.
W. E. B. DuBois, "The Individual and Social Conscience". He goes on to emphasize that it is, however, only the beginning.