A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy

You don’t need a philosopher to tell you what empathy is; you need a philosopher to help you distinguish the hype and the over-intellectualization from a rigorous and critical empathy.

Every parent, teacher, health care worker, business person with customers, and professional with clients, knows what empathy is: Be open to the other person’s feelings,

Cover Art: A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy

Cover Art: A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy

take a walk in their shoes, give them back their own experience in one’s own words such that they recognize it as theirs.

Okay – I’ve read enough – I want to order the book: Order A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy

So why is empathy in such short supply? Because we are mistaking the breakdowns of empathy – emotional contagion, conformity, projection, gossip, and getting lost in translation – for authentic empathy with one another in community. Drive out cynicism, shame, resignation, bullying, and empathy naturally shows up. There is enough empathy to go around. Get some here.

In this volume, Lou Agosta engages thirty three key articles from the great contributors to empathy studies such as William Ickes, Shaun Gallagher, and Dan Zahavi. Agosta distinguishes the hype from the substance, the wheat from the chafe, and the breakdowns of empathy from a rigorous and critical empathy itself as the foundation of community.

After debunking the prevailing scientism of empathy, this volume lays out a rigorous and critical empathy, leading the way forward with empathy studies that actually enable us to relate to one another.

Meanwhile, even more praise from the critics for A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy by Lou Agosta

“Agosta’s book is at the right place and the right time. One of the most exciting things about emerging areas of academic study is when a dialogue can be enjoined among those with various insights.  It is in this way that an understanding of the core subject matter (in this case empathy) can grow and be enriched.  Lou Agosta’s latest book does just this.  It begins with an artifact […] The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Empathy (2017) and it engages with the various contributors individually and with some of the major themes in a multi-disciplinary way—such as social psychology and the phenomenology of empathy, and situates them into how empathy might be practiced. (Thus, it continues the practice-oriented methodology of Agosta’s Empathy Lessons that has been influential.)

“What makes A Review so successful is that we are presented with one mind (Agosta’s) in dialogue with many minds.  This does two things: (a) it pulls together [the Handbook’s] vision; and (b) it extends the dialogue inviting other essays to be written to further enrich the dialogue.  Both of these objectives creates space for the debate and discussion of empathy which has established itself as an important component of several disciplines, e.g., ethics, social/political philosophy, sociology, literary theory, and psychology.  I predict that this influence will continue to grow. It is a great read for scholars and a crucial acquisition for university libraries.”  Michael Boylan, professor of philosophy at Marymount University and author of Fictive Narrative Philosophy: How Literature can act as Philosophy,and the philosophical novel T-Rx: The History of a Radical Leader.

In this, his fifth book, Lou Agosta cements his status as the preeminent expert on empathy.  I, a psychologist and psychoanalyst, know of the view of empathy in my fields.  Agosta here deftly acquainted me with the way empathy is seen by other disciplines, such as philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, anthropology, and aesthetics.  With his lively mind and fluent, playful writing style, he enlightens and entertains the reader.” James W. Anderson, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University, and President, Chicago Psychoanalytic Society (2017-2019)

“Lou Agosta calls it as he sees it. His distinct voice is both knowledgeable and radical in his advocacy of a conscious and deliberate embrace of empathy.  He is passionate in putting forward that the understanding of empathy and its daily application is the essential element in improving the human condition in modern times.

“Lou Agosta’s most recent book in his series on empathy reviews the philosophical origins of empathy and current controversies.  His tour de force reviews thirty three authors on empathy and makes a critical evaluation of both important contributions and limitations of the extensive literature regarding key concepts in the field of empathy studies. The book will appeal to those who believe empathy is critical in all aspects of interpersonal relatedness from psychotherapy to organizational culture.

“Topics covered include the core importance of empathy in human being. Empathy is reviewed from an historical perspective including philosophical, moral, aesthetic, cultural and clinical frames of exploration.

“Lou Agosta is a natural teacher and rare will be the reader who does not learn something significant from his new book.” Dennis Beedle, MD, former Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Saint Anthony Hospital, Chicago

Click here to order: Order A Critical Review of a Philosophy of Empathy

Short BIO: Lou Agosta, PhD, teaches and practices empathy at Ross University Medical School at Saint Anthony Hospital, Chicago, Il. He is the author of three peer-reviewed books in the series A Rumor of Empathyand the best selling, popular book, Empathy Lessons. His PhD is from the philosophy department of the University of Chicago and is entitled Empathy and Interpretation. He is an empathy consultant in private practice in Chicago, delivering empathy lessons, therapy, and life coaching, to individuals and organizations.

(c) Lou Agosta, PhD and the Chicago Empathy Project

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Categories: David Hume, Einfühlung, empathic interpretation, empathic receptivity, empathic responsiveness, empathic understanding, Empathy, empathy trends, Ethics, film and empathy, fMRI, historical empathy, mindreading, Philosophy, Publications by Lou Agosta on empathy, resistance to empathy, Theodor Lipps

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