The Disappearance and Rehabilitation of Introspection

Introspection extends from an attempt to isolate and report on an individual sensation such as the color or smell of a rose; to the account of a formal meditation or instructions on how to perform one, undertaken and published by Descartes, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius Loyola, and Pascal, often in the form of an inner dialogue; to the verbal thinking of child’s soliloquy as studied by Piaget and Vygotsky; to the unstudied talk of an individual lying back on a couch expressing whatever comes to mind to the psychoanalyst over his right shoulder, who uncannily is merged with the figures from the past; to what Heinz Kohut described as vicarious introspection, a definition of empathy. The latter work in particular suggests that the path to a full, robust understanding and deployment of empathy leads through the labyrinth of introspection, a candidate phenomenon that, according to some, either is unreliable and without its own phenomenology or is epiphenomenal. An engagement in detail will be required to clear the way to an understanding of how introspection provides the context for at least some forms of empathic data gathering, those highlighting the microstructure of the interrelation of two individuals. How this works out will require some effort to disentangle, and we begin by taking a step back to the early glory days of introspection and its fall from grace as a scientific method, following through with introspection as displaced perception, simulation, meditation (inner dialogue), free association, retrospection, evenly-hovering attention, and vicarious introspection:  CHEmpathyandIntrospection20081107 Please give me the benefit of your comments, criticisms, impertinent remarks, and penetrating feedback. All signed, authenticated comments will be acknolwedged (credited) in any subsequent publications that make use of them.

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Categories: Empathy, Introspection, Philosophy

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