Empathy and Sympathy in the Context of Ethics

This work is now available thanks to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Empathy and Sympathy in Ethics.
URL: http://www.iep.utm.edu/emp-symp/
This work is in effect an unpublished chapter (now published)  from my book Empathy in the Context of Philosophy (Palgrave 2010) in the refereed on-line journal (iep).  Several typos and “wordos” in this essay from last April 2011 have now been corrected (with my thanks to all those who called them to my attention).

An excerpt from the article’s abstract: After discussing the early uses of “sympathy” in David Hume and Adam ASmith, this article is organized historically. Two traditions are distinguished. The first is the Anglo-American tradition, and it extends from Hume and Smith to the twenty-first century work of Michael Slote. Stephen Darwall’s contribution is applied in engaging Hume and Smith. Finally, the interrelation of empathy, sympathy and altruism is explored in the work of John Rawls and Thomas Nagel.  The second tradition is the Continental one. It extends from the spirituality of Johann Herder to the phenomenological movement of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Max Scheler, and Edith Stein. The intentional analysis of empathy is directly relevant to the constitution of the social community in a broad, normative relationship with the “Other.” Empathy (Einfühlung) is sui generis an intentional (mental) act that starts out in the superstructure of intersubjectivity in Husserl and steadily migrates towards the foundation of community under the influence of Heidegger, Scheler, and Stein. The choice of which philosophers and thinkers to include is also determined by the contingent facts that those chosen are most likely to be encountered in contemporary debates about empathy, sympathy, and ethics. Stein, Husserl, and Heidegger are primarily epistemological, ontological, and post-onto-theological, and are in the background of any contemporary, formal engagement with ethical theories, which is the focus of the present article. Scheler turns his phenomenological intuition of essence (wesenschau) towards the moral sentiments; and his analysis of the diversity of sympathetic forms is a lasting contribution to the topic. Contemporary Continental thinkers such as Larry Hatab and Frederick Olafson associate empathy with Heideggerian Mitsein and Mitdasein (being in the world with others) as the existential foundation of ethics). The roles of Friedrich Nietzsche, the Holocaust, and the “Other,” especially in Emmanuel Levinas, are distinguishing marks of the ethical approach on the Continent. The article ends with a discussion of how the discipline of psychoanalysis contributes to the role of empathy.  Please see the above-cited URL for the complete article.
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Categories: Altruism, David Hume, Einfühlung, empathic understanding, Empathy, empathy consulting, empathy trends, Ethics, Feeling, forgiveness and resentment, Immanuel Kant, Self, sympathy

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