Visualizing Empathy – Part 1

Empathy 1

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

Empathy 2

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

empathy-3

Empathy 3

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

Works Cited
Morton, Adam. “Empathy for the Devil.” Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Ed. by Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2011. 318-30.


Image references
Empathy 1
https://personalitygrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Empathy.jpg?2aa4f6

Empathy 2
http://www.relatably.com/m/img/empathetic-memes/d8965e281b3d08be099b706edadd15d0565d561ae35e9d07bb8fa0d637c8a678

Empathy 3
Borrowed from the blog post of Shalini Shah
Link TBD

4 thoughts on “Visualizing Empathy – Part 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *