Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (4):541-552 (2015)

This article offers a critique and reformulation of the concept of empathy as it is currently used in the context of medicine and medical care. My argument is three pronged. First, that the instrumentalised notion of empathy that has been common within medicine erases the term’s rich epistemological history as a special form of understanding, even a vehicle of social inquiry, and has instead substituted an account unsustainably structured according to the polarisations of modernity. I suggest that understanding empathy by examining its origins within the phenomenological tradition, as a mode of intersubjective understanding, offers a different and profitable approach. Secondly, I argue that the appropriation of empathy in medicine means that, ironically, empathy can function as a technique of pastoral power, in which virtue, knowledge and authority remain with the doctor. And thirdly, empathy is in danger of being resourced as a substitute for equity and funding within health systems. I conclude however with hope for the productive possibilities for empathy.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-015-9631-z
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References found in this work BETA

We Have Never Been Modern.Bruno Latour - 1993 - Harvard University Press.
Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff & Mark Johnson - 1980 - Ethics 93 (3):619-621.
Phenomenology of the Social World.Alfred Schutz - 1967 - Northwestern University Press.
Metaphors We Live By.Max Black - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 40 (2):208-210.
The Nature of Sympathy.Max Scheler - 2008 - Transaction Publishers.

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Citations of this work BETA

Clinical Sympathy: The Important Role of Affectivity in Clinical Practice.Carter Hardy - 2019 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (4):499-513.

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