Edith Stein and the Contemporary Psychological Study of Empathy

Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 43 (2):151-184 (2012)
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Illuminated by the writings of Edith Stein, this paper presents a model of empathy as a very particular intersubjective understanding. This is commonly a view absent from psychology literature. For Stein, empathy is the experience of experientially and directly knowing another person’s experience, as it unfolds in the present, together with the awareness of the ‘otherness’ of that experience. It can be conceptually distinguished, in terms of process and experience, from current models that propose that empathic understandings are ‘intellectual’ experiences or sympathetic experiences. As such, she provides an additional or alternative aspect to understanding other people’s experiences. Our paper provides a summary of Stein’s key analytic claims about three key facets of empathy. Her views are discussed in the light of debates relevant for contemporary psychology and social cognition



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