Empathy is a form of emotionally charged imaginative perspective‐taking. It is also the unique source of a particular form of understanding, which I will call humane understanding. Humane understanding consists in the direct apprehension of the intelligibility of others’ emotions. This apprehension is an epistemic good whose ethical significance is multifarious. In this paper, I focus on elaborating the sense in which humane understanding of others is non‐instrumentally valuable to its recipients. People have a complex but profound need to be humanely understood. Because we respond to others’ very real need when we pursue this sort of understanding of their emotions, empathy is best understood as itself a way of caring, rather than just a means to promote other caring behavior.