The Comparison between Empathy and Taste (Aesthetic) In Kant’s Third Critique

This post explores the parallel – the analogy – between empathy and taste. Such a parallel is justified by invoking the tradition in which empathy is made the basis of aesthetics. Instead of regarding this basis as a historical confusion, the grain of truth to which this tradition points is explicated in terms of an analogy between taste (in the Kantian sense) and empathy. A full, robust definition of empathy makes use of the four moments of the judgment of aesthetic taste – disinterestedness, universality, purposiveness without finality, and necessity. Empathy then also brings in the concept of the other. This conversation is possible because empathy recruits the same underlying aspects of the human mental apparatus as does taste – the sensus communis in both forms– though it is applied differently. Please see – KantianReviewTasteEmpathy2010Feb01

Categories: Einfühlung, Empathy, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, talk therapy, Taste (aesthetic)

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3 replies

  1. Dear Professor Agosta,

    someone has send me a note on your book and the link to this page last week. If you diid so yourself, I would like to thank you for your e-mail. I am interested in your philosophical research on empathy. I have read your article “Kant’s Treasure Hard-to-Attain” published in the Kant-Studien with great interest and I will read it again. I may have some question then.

    Next summer I will teach a seminar on Kants Tugendlehre where I will consider Kants views about the role of judgement in ethical and moral matters. This will be a good opportunity to look for parallels with aesthetic and teleological judgement.

    Maybe you are not yet familiar with Wolfgang Wieland’s book “Urteil und Gefühl. Kants Theorie der Urteilskraft”. This is a original and innovative philosophical study on Kants analysis and theory of judgment. This might be relevant for your research on empathy as well.

    Although I am more interested in Jaspers’ and Pfänder’s theories of emotions rather than in Heidegger’s analysis of the ontic structure of Dasein we seem to have some common thematic interests and methodological approaches. Currently, I am working on a study on Kants conception of dignity.

    In the eigthies I studied with Hector-Neri Castaneda and Alberto Coffa at Indiana University in Bloomington. Both of them initiated that I became less interested in analytic philosophy and more interested in Brentano and Husserl, Jaspers and Gadamer, in addition to the evergreen masters, like Plato, Aristotle and Kant.

    For the moment, I would like to read your essay “The Comparison between Empathy and Taste (Aesthetic) In Kant’s Third Critique”. Unfortunately, I could not download it from your homepage like your essays on Kant’s Treasure and Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle’s Rhetoric.

    Would you please be so kind and send me an e-mail with the data file as an attachment?


    Ulrich Diehl

  2. Thanks for calling out the broken link, which I have now repaired. Much appreciated. I have also sent the material to you via email (as soon as I am done with this reply). Thanks also for the recommendation about Wieland, which I have seen and will get from the library. Kant’s theory of the emotions gets traction in the context of his engagement with the sublime, and, of course, charm (Reiz) delivers a diversity of empirical affects. I would say that we are fellow travelers in the matter of [much of] this material, and I hope you will keep me informed on the progress of your work. As we are coming up on Christmas, all the best to you and yours for a happy and safe holiday season! Lou

  3. My I suggest a further resources to learn more about empathy and compassion?
    The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
    The Culture of Empathy website is the largest internet portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews,  videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion.
    Let’s Find 1 Million People Who Want to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

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