The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this presentation, we address the existential question of how, in a world of upheaval and discontinuity, we are to live together and work together with the other who is a stranger, in a way that does not dissolve plurality but also does not slide into moral relativism. In such conditions the understanding of the other is often argued to be crucial and we turn to the concept of empathy, which is often considered an ability that allows the subject to understand the other. Morally, this knowledge is then assumed to be used to act in ways that take the other into account. In educational research empathy is being promoted as one of the ways that teachers may build a positive relationship with students in order for students to perform better. In the literature empathy is articulated as a kind of knowledge and two components are distinguished: an affective component (being able to feel the other’s feelings) and a cognitive component (being able to decode the other’s reasons for acting). We would like to address the issue of whether empathy is best understood as a kind of knowledge and further the ethical status of such ‘knowledge’ in our interaction with the other. Drawing on Hannah Arendt, we conceive of the world as fundamentally constituted by plurality and difference, and the other is thus not immediately accessible to us. Therefore, we should not aim to meet the other first and foremost empathically, but practically. Thus in this presentation we suggest focusing on jointly solving problems at hand rather than using empathy as a way to mediate interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) - Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017
http://www2.rikkyo.ac.jp/web/istp2017/topic8.html

Conference

Conference17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP)
LocationRikkyo University
CountryJapan
CityTokyo
Period21/08/201725/08/2017
Internet address

Cite this

Matthiesen, N. C. L., & Klitmøller, J. (2017). The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt. Abstract from 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) , Tokyo, Japan.
Matthiesen, Noomi Christine Linde ; Klitmøller, Jacob. / The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt. Abstract from 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) , Tokyo, Japan.
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Matthiesen, NCL & Klitmøller, J 2017, 'The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt' 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) , Tokyo, Japan, 21/08/2017 - 25/08/2017, .

The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt. / Matthiesen, Noomi Christine Linde; Klitmøller, Jacob.

2017. Abstract from 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) , Tokyo, Japan.

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

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Matthiesen NCL, Klitmøller J. The shortcomings of the concept of empathy – learning from Hannah Arendt. 2017. Abstract from 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (ISTP) , Tokyo, Japan.