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Remember, we are driving towards an interpretation that opens up empathy as the possibility of authentic being with the other. We now proceed to it.

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Each of the design distinctions has an authentic or inauthentic way of being. Life is not a sequential process, and humans are constantly distracted, even spaced out, by the involvement with everyday concerns about making a living, avoiding the boss, pleasing the spouse and looking good in front of peers, friends and opponents, especially the latter. Likewise, each of these distinctions is schematized — applied and implemented — in its relationship to time as a whole with thrownness coming at us humans out of the past, understanding and interpretation projecting possibilities into the future and the present being grasped in the way humans bring 26 Empathy in the Context of Philosophy to language the declarations of commitments in authenticity or lack of it.

The unity of these time dimensions is consummated in the structure of care — the self of human being is caring about being human, an expression that, provocatively, does not distinguish one from the other. Dasein the human being is individualized by death out of its distractedness of the conformity to the crowd; and Dasein is humanized by its encounter with the other, who gives Dasein its humanness. Without the other, the human being Dasein dies a kind of affective, spiritual death similar to being an emotional zombie to whom nothing matters.

The introduction of the other is an interpretation of Heidegger based on the interpretation of a hermeneutic of empathy into which further inquiry is required.


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But a tendency is not inevitability. Humans can recover their authentic selves. Human beings are led into authenticity when the individual confronts finitude in the necessity of death, which individualizes each and every one down to his or her own possibility of not being. This encounter with death acts as a wake up call to individual humans to get engaged with what authentically matters and makes a difference.

Honing in on the neglected interpretation This is the way human beings are designed — inauthentically with others and, more rarely, authentically alone and individualized self-aware in the face of death. Given the distractedness in the everyday, neither this dichotomy nor the alternatives are generally acknowledged.

Empathy In The Context Of Philosophy (Renewing Philosophy)

Furthermore, no one — least of all Heidegger — is proposing a redesign. These readings receive some attention in Heidegger, but significantly less so. This alternative, although significant, shall not further engage us here.

The second interpretation leads straight into the discussion of empathy and where empathy should be located — the unwritten chapter — in an analysis that draws towards the foundation of human being with one another. But since it is not in the surface structure of Being and Time, or at least not more than parenthetical remarks that are equivalent to a footnote, it requires further discussion and motivation.

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See Figure 1. Look at the violent interpretations to which Heidegger subjects the writings of Kant, the pre-Socrates and other thinkers and poets. One has to grant a powerful originality in this rethinking. It requires reading against the obvious and initial meaning of the two above-cited passages about empathy. Thus the existential analytic constantly has the character of doing violence, whether for the claim of the everyday interpretation or for its complacency and its tranquillized obviousness. Does not then the violence of this project amount to freeing the undisguised phenomenal content of human being [Dasein]?

Heidegger a: f. What this inquiry is suggesting is that the use of empathy — the phenomenon, not the word — is both so pervasive and so well buried and forgotten by everyday automatic behaviour and its reactive responses — especially, but not exclusively, in Heidegger — that empathy will be disinterred only by a careful analysis of the details of the experience of the other as grasped in the key distinctions of affectedness, understanding, interpretation and speech discourse. This opens an alternative approach to a special hermeneutic of empathy.

It finds an alternative way between a human being who is alone and authentic in the face of death and one who is distracted and lost in the busyness of inauthentic being with others. In turn, this opens a reading, a third choice, that highlights an authentic being with others. This interpretation leads straight into an analysis of empathy — the unwritten chapter — as the foundation of human being with one another. But it is not in the surface structure of Being and Time, at least not more than parenthetical remarks, the equivalent to a footnote.

It is to that task of expressing what has remained unsaid in Heidegger about a special hermeneutic of empathy to which we now turn. The basic Heideggerian distinctions of affectedness, understanding, interpretation, assertion and speech are used to interpret and implement empathy.

This is the delivery of the hermeneutic of empathy — applying these distinctions to empathy. Insight from the later Heidegger is integrated. The affectedness of empathy is formally the way in which an individual human being is disclosed to another in his affectivity. Make no mistake. Heidegger gives priority to mood Stimmung , which, as a word, says too much and too little.


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This includes the way humans wake up in a good or bad mood and so are thrown into a mood by reacting to a situation as it concerns the entire human being. Heidegger explicitly acknowledges the spectrum of affects such as joy, hope, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, boredom, sadness, melancholy, despair. Significantly Heidegger describes the way in which feelings are infectious as we say , but objects to that way of speaking, while asserting that moods are not transferred.

They are already there. In this case does he produce in himself a psychic experience, in order then to transfer it to the others, like the way infectious germs wander from one organism to others?

Empathy in the Context of Philosophy : Lou Agosta :

Or another person is in a group that in its manner of being dampens and depresses everything; no one is outgoing. What do we learn from this? Moods are not accompanying phenomena; rather, they are the sort of thing that determines beingwith-one-another in advance. It seems as if, so to speak, a mood is in each case already there, like an atmosphere, in which we are steeped and by which we are thoroughly determined. It not only seems as if this were so, it is so; and in light of these facts, it is necessary to dispense with the psychology of feelings and experiences and consciousness.

The mood moves across an articulation point — a boundary between the individual and its milieu. Given the occurrences of misunderstanding, breakdowns and failed communications between humans, further analysis of what happens at the 32 Empathy in the Context of Philosophy articulation point will be useful.

Heidegger is on target in identifying the communicability of affect as given in advance. In order for feelings to be communicable, individuals must be open to the experiences human beings have together with others. It is to that difference that we now turn. The mood is a displaced sensory-affective experience about how and why the situation matters to you. The gaiety or fear that sweeps through the individuals at a party or in a crowd is a sensory-affective complex that would be individually available for direction and control of behaviour and may even be available for transient attentional awareness introspection ; but the panic or gaiety is not a source of cognition as it functions in causing the mass behaviour of the crowd.

The individual in the crowd who is gripped by it does not have a functioning concept of a process of emotional contagion. One contemporary philosopher who succeeds in navigating the divide between inner and outer is Fred Dretske , Dretske provides an account of what neither Heidegger nor anyone has been able to explain completely, why a mood Stimmung that is part of a milieu at a party gets experienced as mine Heidegger b: H Consider the following.

Of course, emotional contagion is not empathy, but rather relies on a mechanism that also provides input to the empathic process — in which affects are subsymbolically transmitted through a crowd or from one individual to another without awareness that it is not an individual emotion but an occurring communicability of affect. This becomes the source of the limited, deflated first-person authority that we do have, especially about the content of our external experiences as these are reflected by perception that is displaced across the boundary between the individual and the environment.

This is also why introspection, according to Dretske, has no phenomenology of its own. Translated into a Heideggerian idiom, the phenomenology of introspection is derivative on a form of mineness. This point deserves further inquiry. Then the experience of blue becomes mine. This may happen as a check on the accuracy of the experience in the pragmatic process of evaluating the weather to determine if a rain coat is required or as part of training in colour perception or in painting a picture of a landscape or as part of a theoretic study of the sky or for a host of arbitrary other reasons.

The distinction is made between the blue and the experience of blue as mine. Only the latter, the experience, is mine. A further crucial partitioning of experience occurs. This implies nothing about the blue being a sense datum, being re-identifiable or not , being misleading or being shareable with others.

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It does imply that a boundary exists between an individual and 34 Empathy in the Context of Philosophy what is non-individual, that is, a world of other things and their relationships instrumental, theoretic, affective and so on , including other individuals, that are not mine. The phenomenology of introspection is the qualitative mineness that accompanies the experience of blue of the sky. But one learns about the experience by looking outward at the sky. The blue of the sky is not mine, not inward, but the experience of blue is mine.

The point?