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It just makes us sad. How it manages to do so is, of course, an exceedingly interesting question. In other words, our bodies react to the music and, as a consequence, we experience certain emotions. Dominic Lopes is also interested in the capacity of artworks to induce empathy-like states not by focusing on the emotional expressions of characters.

He argues that depicted scenes express emotions, in some cases better than the character in the scene, and consequently cause the ascription to this character of the emotion thus expressed. In other instances, the emotion invoked in the viewer is not expressed in the scene itself, but is evoked because it is what we may call a warranted response to the scene.

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There is, therefore, an interesting and complex interplay between the expression of emotion of characters in art and the scene in which they are set. The emotions induced in us by scenes or situations, however, should not invariably be interpreted as empathic responses.

Prinz argues that empathy is not necessary for moral judgement, moral development, or moral conduct. In fact, he suggests that we should not even try to cultivate an empathy-based morality for many of the reasons familiar to those who know of the criticisms of the ethics of care tradition. Heather Battaly argues empathy is not a virtue, though it may be necessary for virtue, and even Martin Hoffman who defends the importance of empathy in moral thought and development, thinks it necessary to delineate the limits of empathy in justice.

There is something about the first-person perspective, Goldie argues, that is untranslatable into a third-person simulation of it. For instance, we cannot simulate the weights someone ascribes to values when they are in conflict. In general, Goldie is of the opinion that thoughts and feelings essentially pertain to an individual and can therefore not be truly shared through simulation.

This sort of scepticism stands in marked contrast to the excitement expressed by authors earlier in the book about the force of shared neural networks in empathy and the existence of mirror neurons to overcome the duality between self and other so endemic to philosophical and psychological debates. The collection, then ends on a suggestion that we, unbeknownst to ourselves, constrain our imagination so as to block any possible empathy at least in certain cases.

Our inability to imagine sometimes simply amounts to an unwillingness to do so. The same goes for empathy. On the whole, I found the volume very stimulating and the breadth of discussion refreshing. I did find the section on empathy and mind a bit lacking, dominated, as it is, by the neuroscience of mirroring. I would have liked more philosophical discussion of the role of empathy in understanding others.

Empathy as a route to knowledge

The volume is a bit skewed towards empathy in aesthetics and perhaps not as interdisciplinary as the subtitle might lead one to suppose. Having said that, this is a collection of high-quality papers by a distinguished group of researchers, and it is most certainly a rewarding read. I highly recommend it to people interested in empathy and empathy-related phenomena. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.


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It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Summing Up: Recommended.

Book Empathy: Philosophical And Psychological Perspectives 2011

White Creighton University. This book provides a wide and rich overview of the ago-old problem of empathy, and should be on every library shelf To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities. Main Description. Empathy has for a long time, at least since the eighteenth century, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do; and in relation to our capacity to respond toothers ethically.

In addition, empathy is seen as having a central role in aesthetics, in the understanding of our engagement with works of art and with fictional characters. A fuller understanding of empathy is now offered by the interaction of research in science and the humanities.


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Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives draws together nineteen original chapters by leading researchers across several disciplines, together with an extensive Introduction by the editors. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, tobring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises.

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This volume offers the ideal starting-point for the exploration of this intriguing aspect of human life. Empathy has for a long time, at least since the eighteenth century, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do; and in relation to our capacity to respond to others ethically. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, to bring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises.

In this interdisciplinary investigation of empathy leading researchers from philosophy and psychology explore the its role in our capacity to understand other people and predict what they think, feel, and do; the part it plays in our ethical responses to others; and its importance to our appreciation of art and fiction.

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