Empathy is generally regarded as important and positive. However, descriptions of empathy are often inadequate and deceptive. Furthermore, there is a widespread lack of critical attention to such deficiencies. This critical review of the medical discourse of empathy shows that tendencies to evade and misrepresent the understanding subject are common. The understanding subject’s contributions to the empathic process are often neglected or described as something that can and should be avoided or controlled. Furthermore, the intrinsic and closely (...) interwoven relationship between medical understanding and empathy is generally not explored. Instead of challenging objectivistic and instrumental ideals, the medical discourse of empathy tends to accommodate to inadequate ideals of objectivity and instrumentalism. Thus, important aspects of physician’s rationality, understanding, and morality are neglected and important opportunities for reflection, dialogue, and critique are forfeited. Both the critical and constructive parts of this paper are heavily inspired by philosophical hermeneutic insights, e.g. that physician’s empathy is always historically situated and part of a moral commitment. At the end of this paper, an alternative description of empathy - i.e. appropriate understanding of another human being - is outlined to facilitate the inclusion of hermeneutic insights and accentuate the inherent relationship between empathy and morality. (shrink)
Empathy is a thing constantly asked for and stressed as a central skill and character trait of the good physician and nurse. To be a good doctor or a good nurse one needs to be empathic—one needs to be able to feel and understand the needs and wishes of patients in order to help them in the best possible way, in a medical, as well as in an ethical sense. The problem with most studies of empathy in medicine (...) is that empathy is poorly defined and tends to overlap with other related things, such as emotional contagion, sympathy, or a caring personality in general. It is far from clear how empathy fits into the general picture of medical ethics and the framework of norms that are most often stressed there, such as respect for autonomy and beneficience. How are we to look upon the role and importance of empathy in medical ethics? Is empathy an affective and/or cognitive phenomenon only, or does it carry moral significance in itself as a skill and/or virtue? How does empathy attain moral importance for medicine? In this paper I will attempt to show that a comparison with the Aristotelian concept of phronesis makes it easier to see what empathy is and how it fits into the general picture of medical ethics. I will argue that empathy is a basic condition and source of moral knowledge by being the feeling component of phronesis, and, by the same power, it is also a motivation for acting in a good way. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to mount a philosophical challenge to the currently highly visible research and discourse on empathy. The notion of empathetic perspective-shifting—a conceptually demanding, high-level construal of empathy in humans that arguably captures the core meaning of the term—is criticized from the standpoint of a philosophy of normatively accountable agency. Empathy in this demanding sense fails to achieve a true understanding of the other and instead risks to impose the empathizer’s self-constitutive agency upon (...) the person empathized with. Attempts to ‘simulate’ human agency, or attempts to emulate its cognitive or emotional basis, will likely distort their target phenomena in profound ways. Thus, agency turns out to be empathy’s blind spot. Elements of an alternative understanding of interpersonal relatedness are also discussed, focusing on aspects of ‘interaction theory’. These might do some of the work that high-level constructs of empathy had been supposed to do without running into similar conceptual difficulties. (shrink)
In this timely and wide-ranging study, Karsten Stueber argues that empathy is epistemically central for our folk-psychological understanding of other agents--that it is something we cannot do without in order to gain understanding of other minds. Setting his argument in the context of contemporary philosophy of mind and the interdisciplinary debate about the nature of our mindreading abilities, Stueber counters objections raised by some in the philosophy of social science and argues that it is time to rehabilitate the (...) class='Hi'>empathy thesis.Empathy, regarded at the beginning of the twentieth century as the fundamental method of gaining knowledge of other minds, has suffered a century of philosophical neglect. Stueber addresses the plausible philosophical misgivings about empathy that have been responsible for its failure to gain widespread philosophical acceptance.Crucial in this context is his defense of the assumption, very much contested in contemporary philosophy of mind, that the notion of rational agency is at the core of folk psychology. Stueber then discusses the contemporary debate between simulation theorists--who defend various forms of the empathy thesis--and theory theorists. In distinguishing between basic and reenactive empathy, he provides a new interpretive framework for the investigation into our mindreading capacities. Finally, he considers epistemic objections to empathy raised by the philosophy of social science that have been insufficiently discussed in contemporary debates. Empathy theorists, Stueber writes, should be prepared to admit that, although empathy can be regarded as the central default mode for understanding other agents, there are certain limitations in its ability to make sense of other agents; and there are supplemental theoretical strategies available to overcome these limitations. (shrink)
This article takes Heidegger's design distinctions for human being [Dasein] including affectivity, understanding, and speech, and, using these distinctions, generates a Heideggerian definition of empathy [Einfuehlung]. This article distinguishes empathic receptivity, empathic understanding, empathic interpretation, and empathic speech (or responsiveness). It also looks at characteristic breakdowns.
There is disagreement in the literature about the exact nature of the phenomenon of empathy. There are emotional, cognitive, and conditioning views, applying in varying degrees across species. An adequate description of the ultimate and proximate mechanism can integrate these views. Proximately, the perception of an object's state activates the subject's corresponding representations, which in turn activate somatic and autonomic responses. This mechanism supports basic behaviors that are crucial for the reproductive success of animals living in groups. The Perception-Action (...) Model, together with an understanding of how representations change with experience, can explain the major empirical effects in the literature. It can also predict a variety of empathy disorders. The interaction between the PAM and prefrontal functioning can also explain different levels of empathy across species and age groups. This view can advance our evolutionary understanding of empathy beyond inclusive fitness and reciprocal altruism and can explain different levels of empathy across individuals, species, stages of development, and situations. Key Words: altruism; cognitive empathy ; comparative; emotion; emotional contagion; empathy ; evolution; human; perception-action; perspective taking. (shrink)
In phenomenology, theories of empathy are intimately connected with the question of how it is possible to have insight into the mind of the other person. In this article, the author wants to show why it is self-evident for us that the other person is having experiences. In order to do so, it is not enough to discuss the phenomenon of empathy with a starting point in the already constituted adult person; instead the article presents a genetic approach (...) to human development. The author thus contrasts Edith Stein’s discussion of Einfühlung (empathy), which takes its starting point in the experience of the grown-up, with Max Scheler’s discussion of Einsfühlung (feeling of oneness), where the relation between mother and infant is taken as one example. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of the world of the infant is read as one way of developing Scheler’s theory of intersubjectivity and of Einsfühlung. This genetic approach is developed further into a phenomenological analysis of the experience of the fetus and of birth. The author argues that the analysis of the fetus highlights the distinction between knowing that another person is having experiences, and knowing the specific content of the other person’s experiences. The fetus does not experience different persons, but has a pre-subjective experience of life that includes what is later experienced as belonging to “another.” Later in life, the experience of empathy, as an experience of a specific content, can be developed from this experience. In this way empathy and Einsfühlung can be understood as complementary rather than as competing phenomena. (shrink)
Empathy has for a long time, at least since the eighteenth century, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do; and in relation to our capacity to respond to others ethically. In addition, empathy is seen as having a central role in aesthetics, in the understanding of our engagement with works of art and with (...) fictional characters. A fuller understanding of empathy is now offered by the interaction of research in science and the humanities. This volume draws together nineteen original chapters by leading researchers across several disciplines, together with an extensive Introduction by the editors. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, to bring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises. It offers the ideal starting-point for the exploration of this intriguing aspect of human life. (shrink)
ABSTRACTPhilosophers and scholars from other disciplines have long discussed the role of empathy in our moral lives. The distinct relational value of empathy, however, has been largely overlooked. This article aims to specify empathy’s distinct relational value: Empathy is both intrinsically and extrinsically valuable in virtue of the pleasant experiences we share with others, the harmony and meaning that empathy provides, the recognition, self-esteem, and self-trust it enhances, as well as trust in others, attachment, and (...) affection it fosters. Once we better understand in what ways empathy is a uniquely relational phenomenon, we can unveil its relevance to morality, which avoids the strictures of both partiality and impartiality. On the one hand, it is the relational value of empathy that grounds defeasible reasons to empathize insofar as empathy is morally called for by a particular relationship. On the other hand, it is precisely... (shrink)
_In Perception, Empathy, and Judgment_ Arne Johan Vetlesen focuses on the indispensable role of emotion, especially the faculty of empathy, in morality. He contends that moral conduct is severely threatened once empathy is prevented from taking part in an interplay with cognitive faculties in acts of moral perception and judgment. Drawing on developmental psychology, especially British "object relations" theory, to illuminate the nature and functioning of empathy, Vetlesen shows how moral performance is constituted by a sequence (...) involving perception, judgment, and action, with an interplay between the agent's emotional and cognitive faculties occurring at each stage. In the powerful tradition from Kant to present-day theorists such as Kohlberg, Rawls, and Habermas, reason is privileged over feeling and judgment over perception, in such a way that basic philosophical questions remain unasked. Vetlesen focuses our attention on these questions and challenges the long-standing assertion that emotions are damaging to moral response. In the final chapter he relates his argument to recent feminist critiques that have also castigated moral theorists in the Kantian tradition for their refusal to recognize a role for emotion in morality. While the book's argument is philosophical, its method and scope are interdisciplinary. In addition to critiques of such philosophers as Arendt, MacIntyre, and Habermas, it contains discussions of specific historical, ideological, and sociological factors that may cause "numbing"—selective or broad-ranging, pathological insensitivity—in humans. The Nazis' mass killing of Jews is studied to illuminate these and other relevant empirical aspects of large-scale immoral action. (shrink)
Empathy can be characterized as a vicarious emotion that one person experiences when reflecting on the emotion of another. So characterized, empathy is sometimes regarded as a precondition on moral judgment. This seems to have been Hume's view. I review various ways in which empathy might be regarded as a precondition and argue against each of them: empathy is not a component, a necessary cause, a reliable epistemic guide, a foundation for justification, or the motivating force (...) behind our moral judgments. In fact, empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality. (shrink)
Whereas empathy is most often looked upon as a virtue and essential skill in contemporary health care, the relationship to sympathy is more complicated. Empathic approaches that lead to emotional arousal on the part of the health care professional and strong feelings for the individual patient run the risk of becoming unprofessional in nature and having the effect of so-called compassion fatigue or burnout. In this paper I want to show that approaches to empathy in health care that (...) attempt to solve these problems by cutting empathy loose from sympathy—from empathic concern—are mistaken. Instead, I argue, a certain kind of sympathy, which I call professional concern, is a necessary ingredient in good health care. Feeling oneself into the experiences and situation of the patient cannot be pursued without caring for the patient in question if the empathy is going to be successful. Sympathy is not only a thing that empathy makes possible and more or less spontaneously provides a way for but is something that we find at work in connection to empathy itself. In the paper I try to show how empathy is a particular form of emotion in which I feel with, about, and for the other person in developing an interpretation of his predicament. The with and for aspects of the empathy process are typically infused by a sympathy for the person one is empathizing with. Sympathy can be modulated into other ways of feeling with and for the person in the empathy process, but these sympathy-replacement feelings nevertheless always display some form of motivating concern for the target. Such an understanding of empathy is of particular importance for health care and other professions dealing with suffering clients. (shrink)
This article makes five main points. Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, under- stood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. Empathy is the precondi- tion of the science of consciousness. Human empathy.
In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others.
Drawing on the work of Scheler, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl and Sartre, this article presents an overview of some of the diverse approaches to intersubjectivity that can be found in the phenomenological tradition. Starting with a brief description of Scheler's criticism of the argument from analogy, the article continues by showing that the phenomenological analyses of intersubjectivity involve much more than a 'solution' to the 'traditional' problem of other minds. Intersubjectivity doesn't merely concern concrete face-to-face encounters between individuals. It is also (...) something that is at play in simple perception, in tool-use, in emotions, drives and different types of self-awareness. Ultimately, the phenomenologists would argue that a treatment of intersubjectivity requires a simultaneous analysis of the relationship between subjectivity and world. It is not possible simply to insert intersubjectivity somewhere within an already established ontology; rather, the three regions 'self', 'others', and 'world' belong together; they reciprocally illuminate one another, and can only be understood in their interconnection. (shrink)
The article explores and compares the accounts of empathy found in Lipps, Scheler, Stein and Husserl and argues that the three latter phenomenological thinkers offer a model of empathy, which is not only distinctly different from Lipps’, but which also diverge from the currently dominant models.
This article criticizes what it calls perspectival thought experiments, which require subjects to mentally simulate a perspective before making judgments from within it. Examples include Judith Thomson's violinist analogy, Philippa Foot's trolley problem, and Bernard Williams's Jim case. The article argues that advances in the philosophical and psychological study of empathy suggest that the simulative capacities required by perspectival thought experiments are all but impossible. These thought experiments require agents to consciously simulate necessarily unconscious features of subjectivity. To complete (...) these experiments subjects must deploy theory-theoretical frameworks to predict what they think they would do. These outputs, however, systematically mislead subjects and are highly prone to error. They are of negligible probative value, and this bodes poorly for their continued use. The article ends with two suggestions. First, many thought experiments are not problematically perspectival. Second, it should be possible to carry out “in-their-shoes” perspectival thought experiments by off-loading simulations onto virtual environments into which philosophers place subjects. (shrink)
Empathic feelings seem to causally influence our moral judgments at least sometimes. But is empathy necessary for our ability to make moral judgments? And is it a good thing if our judgments are based on empathy? This chapter examines the contemporary debate on these issues.
This paper is devoted to the study of the emotions in Edith Stein’s early work On the Problem of Empathy. After presenting her work embedded in the tradition of the early phenomenology of the emotions, I shall elaborate the four dimensions of the emotional experience according to this authoress, the link between emotions and values and the phenomenon of the living body. I argue that Stein’s account on empathy remains incomplete as long as we ignore the complex phenomenology (...) of emotions underlying her work. (shrink)
Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moral agency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is (...) class='Hi'>empathy characterized in the literature, and how crucial is empathy, so described, to moral understanding and agency? I argue that an examination of moral thinking in high-functioning autistic people supports a Kantian rather than a Humean account of moral agency. (shrink)
The inconsistent definition of empathy has had a negative impact on both research and practice. The aim of this article is to review and critically appraise a range of definitions of empathy and, through considered analysis, to develop a new conceptualisation. From the examination of 43 discrete definitions, 8 themes relating to the nature of empathy emerged: “distinguishing empathy from other concepts”; “cognitive or affective?”; “congruent or incongruent?”; “subject to other stimuli?”; “self/other distinction or merging?”; “trait (...) or state influences?”; “has a behavioural outcome?”; and “automatic or controlled?” The relevance and validity of each theme is assessed and a new conceptualisation of empathy is offered. The benefits of employing a more consistent and complete definition of empathy are discussed. (shrink)
Understanding, shared meaning, and mutual trust lie at the heart of the therapeutic nurse–patient relationship. This article introduces the concept of clinical intimacy by applying the interpersonal process model of intimacy to the nurse–patient relationship. The distinction between complementary and reciprocal behaviours, and between intimate interactions and intimate relationships, addresses background concerns about the appropriateness of intimacy in nursing relationships. The mutual construction of meaning in the interactive process between nurses and patients is seen to lie at the heart of (...) clinical intimacy as a hermeneutic enterprise. Intimacy is distinguished from empathy based on intentionality and the status and location of meaning. Reasons for continued investigation into clinical intimacy as an explanatory model for nursing as a hermeneutic practice are presented. (shrink)
When it comes to understanding the nature of social cognition, we have—according to the standard view—a choice between the simulation theory, the theory-theory or some hybrid between the two. The aim of this paper is to argue that there are, in fact, other options available, and that one such option has been articulated by various thinkers belonging to the phenomenological tradition. More specifically, the paper will contrast Lipps' account of empathy—an account that has recently undergone something of a revival (...) in the hands of contemporary simulationists—with various accounts of empathy found in the phenomenological tradition. I discuss the way Lipps was criticized by Scheler, Stein and Husserl, and outline some of the core features of their, at times divergent, alternatives. I then proceed by considering how their basic take on empathy and social cognition was taken up and modified by Schutz—a thinker whose contribution to the analysis of interpersonal understanding has been unjustly neglected in recent years. (shrink)
Quite a number of the philosophical arguments and objections currently being launched against simulation (ST) based and theory-theory (TT) based approaches to mindreading have a phenomenological heritage in that they draw on ideas found in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Stein, Gurwitsch, Scheler and Schutz. Within the last couple of years, a number of ST and TT proponents have started to react and respond to what one for the sake of simplicity might call the phenomenological proposal (PP). This (...) paper addresses some of these critical responses, and distinguishes—in the process—substantive disagreements from terminological issues and other issues that are symptomatic of different research agendas. It does so by focusing specifically upon some objections made by Pierre Jacob. These epitomize the kinds of concerns that are being raised about PP at the moment, and thus facilitate a reply on behalf of PP that also applies more generally. (shrink)
I propose a way of understanding empathy on which it does not necessarily involve any-thing like thinking oneself into another’s shoes, or any imagining at all. Briefly, the empa-thizer uses an aspect of her own mental state as a sample, expressed by means of a phenomenal concept, to understand the other person. This account does a better job of explaining the connection between empathetic experiences and the objects of empathy than most traditional ones do. And it helps to (...) clarify the relations among different varieties of empathy and empathy-like experiences, including empathy with fictional characters. -/- . (shrink)
Current discussions on social cognition, empathy, and interpersonal understanding are largely built on the question of how we recognize and access particular mental states of others. Mental states have been treated as temporally individuated, momentary or temporally narrow unities that can be grasped at one go. Drawing on the phenomenological tradition—on Stein and Husserl in particular—I will problematize this approach, and argue that the other’s experiential states can appear meaningful to us only they are viewed in connection with further, (...) non-simultaneous experiential states of the other. I will focus on the temporal structure of mental states which has received less attention in the available literature. Building a comparison between empathy and music perception, I will argue that approaching the problem of other minds from the point of view of particular mental states is like considering music from the point of view of particular notes. (shrink)
It is tempting to assume that being a moral creature requires the capacity to attribute mental states to others, because a creature cannot be moral unless she is capable of comprehending how her actions can have an impact on the well-being of those around her. If this assumption were true, then mere behaviour readers could never qualify as moral, for they are incapable of conceptualising mental states and attributing them to others. In this paper, I argue against such an assumption (...) by discussing the specific case of empathy. I present a characterisation of empathy that would not require an ability to attribute mental states to others, but would nevertheless allow the creature who possessed it to qualify as a moral being. Provided certain conditions are met, a behaviour reader could be motivated to act by this form of empathy, and this means that behaviour readers could be moral. The case for animal morality, I shall argue, is therefore independent of the case for animal mindreading. (shrink)
In what follows, I wish to discuss empathy and sympathy’s relevance to ethics, taking recent findings into account. In particular, I want to consider sympathy’s relation to the idea of a person’s good or well-being. It is obvious and uncontroversial that sympathetic concern for a person involves some concern for her good and some desire to promote it. What I want to suggest is that the concept of a person’s good or well-being is one we have because we are (...) capable of care and sympathetic concern. Well-being is normative for care in the sense that it is intrinsic to the very idea of a person’s good that threats to it are what it makes sense to be concerned about for that person for her sake. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of empathy as the form of experience directed at embodied unities of expressive movement. After outlining the key differences between simulation theory and the phenomenological approach to empathy, the paper argues that while the phenomenological approach is closer to respecting a necessary constitutional asymmetry between first-personal and second-personal senses of embodiment, it still presupposes a general concept of embodiment that ends up being problematic. A different account is proposed that is neutral on the (...) explanatory role of the first-person sense of embodiment, which leads to an emphasis on the transformative nature of empathy and a broadening of the scope of possible targets of empathic awareness. (shrink)
This article is an introduction to a thematic section on the phenomenology of empathy in medicine, attempting to provide an expose of the field. It also provides introductions to the individual articles of the thematic section.
Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey contributed many invaluable insights that help to make sense of both injustice and resistance. Specifically, she developed an account of what she called “civilized oppression,” which is pernicious in part because it can be difficult to perceive. One way that we ought to pursue what she calls a “life of moral endeavor” is by increasing our perceptual awareness of civilized oppression and ourselves as its agents. In this article I argue that one (...) noxious form of civilized oppression is what Miranda Fricker calls “testimonial injustice.” I then follow Harvey in arguing that one of the methods by which we should work to avoid perpetrating testimonial injustice is by empathizing with others. This is true for two reasons. The first is that in order to manifest what Fricker calls the virtue of testimonial justice, we must have a method by which we “correct” our prejudices or implicit biases, and empathy serves as such a corrective. The second is that there are cases where the virtue of testimonial justice wouldn't in fact correct for testimonial injustice in the way that Fricker suggests, but that actively working to empathize would. (shrink)
This essay develops a new account of the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Imaginative resistance is best conceived of as a limited phenomenon. It occurs when we try to engage imaginatively with different moral worlds that are insufficiently articulated so that they do not allow us either to quarantine our imaginative engagement from our normal moral attitudes or to agree with the expressed moral judgment from the perspective of moral deliberation. Imaginative resistance thus reveals the central epistemic importance that empathy (...) plays for our understanding of rational agents in a context where we try to make sense of the moral appropriateness of their reasons for acting. Reflecting on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance allows us to recognize important features of the relationship between imaginative perspective taking and ordinary moral deliberation. (shrink)
A mixed methods approach was used to understand moral reasoning and empathy in 12- to 18-year-old adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HF-ASD) compared to same age typically developing (TD) youth. Adolescents completed measures assessing empathy (perspective-taking, personal distress, and empathic concern), and moral reasoning, as well as a qualitative interview asking them to discuss a challenging sociomoral situation and recount their moral competencies and strengths in difficult situations. For quantitative results, both groups demonstrated similar empathic concern, but (...) adolescents with HF-ASD had significantly higher personal distress and lower moral reasoning than TD youth. Qualitative results suggest that adolescents with HF-ASD perceived themselves as having empathic concern but struggled to use these feelings to support their actions in spontaneous challenging sociomoral situations. Results suggest that teachers should be educated in providing specific guidance to adolescents with HF-ASD about how to express empathic concern in ways that promote mutually rewarding relationships. (shrink)
In her very interesting ‘First-personal modes of presentation and the problem of empathy’, L. A. Paul argues that the phenomenon of empathy gives us reason to care about the first person point of view: that as theorists we can only understand, and as humans only evince, empathy by appealing to that point of view. We are skeptics about the importance of the first person point of view, although not about empathy. The goal of this paper is (...) to see if we can account for empathy without the ideology of the first person. We conclude that we can. (shrink)
In this paper, we conceptually explore the role of empathy as a connectedness organising mechanism. We expand ideas underlying positive organisational scholarship and examine leading-edge studies from neuroscience and quantum physics that give support to our claims. The perspective we propose has profound implications regarding how we organise and how we manage. First, we argue that empathy enhances connectedness through the unconscious sharing of neuro-pathways that dissolves the barriers between self and other. This sharing encourages the integration of (...) affective and cognitive consciousness which facilitates the ability to find common ground for solution building. Second, empathy enhances connectedness through altruistic action. In giving to others, feelings of joy and harmony are activated. This in turn allows personal freedom to be enriched and transcendence from the rational ego-self is reduced to develop a more expansive, integrated and enlightened state underlying connectedness. Finally, empathy enhances connectedness which results in sharing the quantum field of coherence where there is little separation between self and other. This means living beyond self-interest in a coherent world based upon interdependent wholeness rather than atomization and separation. Empathy allows us to find that state of coherent connectedness. (shrink)
Leadership has become a more popular term than management, even though it is understood that both phenomena represent important organizational behaviors. This paper focuses on empathy in leadership, and presents the findings of a study conducted among business students over the course of 3 years. Finding that empathy consistently ranked lowest in the ratings, the researchers set out to discover the driving motives behind this invariable trend, and conducted a second study to obtain opinions about possible underlying factors. (...) The paper presents the findings of both studies, as well as literature reviews on the differences between management and leadership, a historical overview of leadership, a reflection of 21st century leadership, the ongoing debate on the effects of corporate psychopaths on ethical performance, and scholars’ perception on empathy in corporate leadership. The findings indicate the need for a paradigm shift in corporations as well as business schools in regards to leaders’ required skills, and suggest a proactive approach from business faculty to change the current paradigm. (shrink)
The recent discovery of so-called “mirror-neurons” in monkeys and a corresponding mirroring “system” in humans has provoked wide endorsement of the claim that humans understand a variety of observed actions, somatic sensations, and emotions via a kind of direct representation of those actions, sensations, and emotions. Philosophical efforts to assess the import of such “mirrored understanding” have typically focused on how that understanding might be brought to bear on theories of mindreading, and usually in cases of action. By contrast, this (...) paper assesses mirrored understanding in cases of emotion and its import for theories of empathy and especially empathy in ethical contexts. In particular, this paper argues that the mirrored understanding claim is ambiguous and ultimately misleading when applied to emotion, partly because mirroring proponents fail to appreciate the way in which empathy might serve a distinct normative function in our judgments of what other people feel. The paper thus concludes with a call to revise the mirrored understanding claim, whether in neuroscience, psychology, or philosophy. (shrink)
The role of knowledge has long been seen as problematic in the sensorimotor approach to experience. I offer an amended version of the sensorimotor approach, which replaces knowledge with what I call 'sensorimotor empathy'. Sensorimotor empathy is implicit, sometimes unintentional, skilful perceptual and motor coordination with objects and other people. I argue that sensorimotor empathy is the foundation of social coordination, and the key to understanding our conscious experience. I also explain how sensorimotor empathy can be (...) operationalized and studied in the lab, in terms of interpersonal synergies. (shrink)
A recent version of the view that aesthetic experience is based in empathy as inner imitation explains aesthetic experience as the automatic simulation of actions, emotions, and bodily sensations depicted in an artwork by motor neurons in the brain. Criticizing the simulation theory for committing to an erroneous concept of empathy and failing to distinguish regular from aesthetic experiences of art, I advance an alternative, dynamic approach and claim that aesthetic experience is enacted and skillful, based in the (...) recognition of others’ experiences as distinct from one’s own. In combining insights from mainly psychology, phenomenology, and cognitive science, the dynamic approach aims to explain the emergence of aesthetic experience in terms of the reciprocal interaction between viewer and artwork. I argue that aesthetic experience emerges by participatory sense-making and revolves around movement as a means for creating meaning. While entrainment merely plays a preparatory part in this, aesthetic engagement constitutes the phenomenological side of coupling to an artwork and provides the context for exploration, and eventually for moving, seeing, and feeling with art. I submit that aesthetic experience emerges from bodily and emotional engagement with works of art via the complementary processes of the perception–action and motion–emotion loops. The former involves the embodied visual exploration of an artwork in physical space, and progressively structures and organizes visual experience by way of perceptual feedback from body movements made in response to the artwork. The latter concerns the movement qualities and shapes of implicit and explicit bodily responses to an artwork that cue emotion and thereby modulate over-all affect and attitude. The two processes cause the viewer to bodily and emotionally move with and be moved by individual works of art, and consequently to recognize another psychological orientation than her own, which explains how art can cause feelings of insight or awe and disclose aspects of life that are unfamiliar or novel to the viewer. (shrink)
Empathy has become a common point of debate in moral psychology. Recent developments in psychiatry, neurosciences and social psychology have led to the revival of sentimentalism, and the ‘empathy thesis’ has suggested that affective empathy, in particular, is a necessary criterion of moral agency. The case of psychopaths – individuals incapable of affective empathy and moral agency, yet capable of rationality – has been utilised in support of this case. Critics, however, have been vocal. They have (...) asserted that the case of autism proves the empathy thesis wrong; that psychopathy centres on rational rather than empathic limitations; that empathy is not relevant to many common normative behaviours; and that rationality is required when empathy fails. The present paper analyses these four criticisms. It will be claimed that they each face severe difficulties, and that moral agency ought to be approached via a multi-tier model, with affective empathy as a baseline. (shrink)
In professional medical ethics, the physician traditionally is obliged to fulfil specific duties as well as to embody a responsible and trustworthy personality. In the public discussion, different concepts are suggested to describe the desired underlying attitude of physicians. In this article, one of them—empathy—is presented in an interpretation that is meant to depicture (together with the two additional concepts compassion and care) this attitude. Therefore empathy in the clinical context is defined as the adequate understanding of the (...) inner processes of the patient concerning his health-related problems. Adequacy is scrutinized on behalf of the emotional and subjective involvement of he physician, and on the necessary dependence on medical—moral—goals. In the present interpretation, empathy alone is no guarantee of the right moral attitude, but a necessary instrumental skill in order to perceive and treat a patient as an individual person. The concepts of compassion and care that will be discussed in two forthcoming articles are necessary parts to describe the desired moral attitude of the physician more completely. (shrink)
The term “uncanny valley” goes back to an article of the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. He put forward the hypothesis that humanlike objects like certain kinds of robots elicit emotional responses similar to real humans proportionate to their degree of human likeness. Yet, if a certain degree of similarity is reached emotional responses become all of a sudden very repulsive. The corresponding recess in the supposed function is called the uncanny valley. The present paper wants to propose a philosophical explanation (...) why we feel empathy with inanimate objects in the first place, and why the uncanny valley occurs when these objects become very humanlike. The core of this explanation—which is informed by the recently developing empirical research on the matter—will be a form of empathy involving a kind of imaginative perception. However, as will be shown, imaginative perception fails in cases of very humanlike objects. (shrink)
This article poses a challenge to contemporary theories in psychology that portray empathy as a negative force in the moral life. Instead, drawing on alternative psychological and philosophical literature, especially Martha Nussbaum, I argue that empathy is related to the virtue of compassion and therefore crucial for moral action. Evidence for evolutionary anthropological accounts of compassion in early hominins provides additional arguments for its positive value in deep human history. I discuss this work alongside Thomistic notions of practical (...) wisdom, compassion, misericordia, and the importance of reason in the moral life. The tension between “bottom up” accounts of empathy and that according to a theological interpretation of “infused” virtues also needs to be addressed. From a secular perspective, infused virtue is a projection of the ideal moral life, but from a theological perspective, it is a way of understanding how human capacities through the action of grace can reach beyond what seem to be the limits of psychological moral identity. (shrink)
This discussion explores the moral psychology and metaethics of Michael Slote's Moral Sentimentalism. I argue that his account of empathy has an important lacuna, because the sense in which an empathizer feels the same feeling that his target feels requires explanation, and the most promising candidates are unavailable to Slote. I then argue that the (highly original) theory of moral approval and disapproval that Slote develops in his book is implausible, both phenomenologically and for the role it accords to (...)empathy. Finally, I suggest that these problems in moral psychology undermine Slote's metaethical argument for identifying rightness and wrongness with agential warmth and coldness in action. (shrink)