The Secret Underground Story of Empathy: The Course

The Secret Underground Story of Empathy
Course on Empathy (University of Chicago Graham School):
Tuesday September 27, 2016 6 – 8:30 pm 450 Cityfront Chicago 60611 (and seven sessions thereafter – no class on Oct 11th)
Further info and Register for UChicago Graham School Course here:
This is an open enrollment course – scroll to the bottom of the page (if you do not see it) and be prepared to provide your name and contact data and a payment card ($360) as part of the process.
Aristotle’s theory of the emotions is at the beginning. David Hume has four different definitions of “sympathy” (1739). Immmanuel Kant writes of “the communicability of affect” and “enlarged thinking,” putting oneself in the other’s place. Things really get Slide1going with Sigmund Freud and the phenomenologists (e.g. Edith Stein). We will also engage with neurological work and dis-orders of empathy such as autism and psychopathy. Plan on reading about thirty (30) pages – one article – a week – ample discussion, debate, and sharing.  We will meet for seven sessions (not Oct 11th) – readings available on line  under Creative Common (“no fee”) license – but contact me for the password (LAgosta@UChicago.edu).

I know what you feel because I feel it, too, as a vicarious experience, not a merger. Without any prerequisites, this course will engage the deep history of empathy, exploring the underground dynamics of sympathy, fellow feeling, vicarious feeling, in art, altruism, story telling, before the word “empathy” emerged. Without any prerequisites, empathy is engaged through the lens of selected methods of inquiry including phenomenology, hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, and linguistic philosophy. A special syllabus of short readings will be provided by the instructor including Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Lipps, Freud, Husserl, and, time permitting, Kohut. When all the philosophical arguments are complete, when all the Freudian transference and countertransference is analyzed, when all the phenomenological methods are reduced, when all the hermeneutic circles are spun out, in empathy, one is quite simply in the presence of another human being.

(c) Lou Agosta, PhD / LAgosta@UChicago.edu



Categories: Empathy, Freud, historical empathy

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