Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2008)

Authors
Karsten Stueber
College of the Holy Cross
Abstract
Despite its linguistic roots in ancient Greek, the concept of empathy is of recent intellectual heritage. Yet its history has been varied and colorful, a fact that is also mirrored in the multiplicity of definitions associated with the empathy concept in a number of different scientific and non-scientific discourses. In its philosophical heyday at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, empathy had been hailed as the primary means for gaining knowledge of other minds and as the method uniquely suited for the human sciences, only to be almost entirely neglected philosophically for the rest of the century. Only recently have philosophers become again interested in empathy in light of the debate about our folk psychological mindreading capacities. In the second half of the last century, the task of addressing empathy was mainly left to psychologists who thematized it as a psychological phenomenon and process to be studied by the method of the empirical sciences. Particularly, it has been studied by social psychologists as a phenomenon assumed to be causally involved in creating prosocial attitudes and behavior. Nevertheless, within psychology it is at times difficult to find agreement of how exactly one should understand empathy; a fact of which psychologists themselves have become increasingly aware. The purpose of this entry is to clarify the concept of empathy by surveying its history in various philosophical and psychological discussions and by indicating why empathy was and should be regarded to be of such central importance in understanding human agency in ordinary contexts, in the human sciences and for the constitution of ourselves as social and moral agents
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References found in this work BETA

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Dover Publications.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Direct-Perception Model of Empathy: A Critique. [REVIEW]Pierre Jacob - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):519-540.
Robotic Nudges for Moral Improvement Through Stoic Practice.Michał Klincewicz - 2019 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 23 (3):425-455.

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