Empathy without Isomorphism: A Phenomenological Account

Dan Zahavi and Søren Overgaard

in Empathy

Published by The MIT Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780262016612
Published online August 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780262298612 | DOI:
Empathy without Isomorphism: A Phenomenological Account

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This chapter discusses the concept of empathy and its relevance in interpersonal understanding. It presents the concept of empathy from the viewpoint of philosopher Theodore Lipps, who talks about inner imitation and the components of empathy. The similarities and differences between sympathy and empathy are explored. Views of phenomenologists on self-experience as a necessary condition for empathy are discussed, along with the role of imagination and theoretical knowledge in understanding other people, leading to empathic feelings. The importance of the empathizer having a similar frame of mind to the target’s state is explored. The chapter concludes with the importance of empathy in social understanding.

Keywords: empathy; interpersonal understanding; inner imitation; sympathy; imagination; social understanding

Chapter.  8855 words. 

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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