Empathy is one of the most talked about and widely studied concepts of recent years. Some argue it can help create a more just society, improve medical care and even avert global catastrophe. Others object that it is morally problematic. Who is right? And what is empathy anyway? Is it a way of feeling with others, or is it simply feeling sorry for them? Is it a form of knowledge? What is its evolutionary origin?
In this thorough and clearly-written introduction to the philosophy of empathy Heidi Maibom explores these questions and more, examining the following topics:
The nature of empathy and key themes in the literature Empathy as a way of understanding others, particularly 'simulation theory' and 'perspective-taking' Empathy, emotional contagion, and sympathy Empathy's role in moral understanding or motivation Empathy and art appreciation, with examples from film, music and fiction Empathy and mental disorder, such as psychopathy and autism.
Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, Empathy is an excellent resource for students of philosophy of mind and psychology, psychology, and cognitive science, as well as for those in related subjects such as art, literature and politics.