Topoi 38 (1):185-195 (2019)

In recent years there has been an increasing focus on a crucial aspect of the ‘meeting of minds’ problem :160–165, 2013), namely the ability that human beings have for sharing different types of mental states such as emotions, intentions, and perceptual experiences. In this paper I examine what counts as basic forms of ‘shared experiences’ and focus on a relatively overlooked aspect of human embodiment, namely the fact that we start our journey into our experiential life within the experiencing body of a second person, i.e. our mothers. For example, Zahavi and Rochat recently draw on phenomenological insights and developmental studies in order to support the idea that empathy must be considered a central precondition for experiential sharing. Here I suggest that the defence of the primacy of empathy over experiential sharing might reveal how we are often mislead in our understanding of more basic forms of shared experiences. I argue that while previous approaches mainly defined experiential sharing by using the case of visual experience as a paradigmatic example of ‘togetherness’, it is fruitful to consider the case of pregnancy and intersubjective touch in early infancy as a more basic model of experiential sharing in general. I conclude that shared experiences are phenomena emerging first and foremost from a ‘meeting of bodies’ rather than of minds and as such they precede rather than presuppose empathetic abilities.
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-017-9500-x
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What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.

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