On Empathy - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Alas, such an agreement is meaningless. We cannot (yet) measure sadness, quantify it, crystallize it, access it in any way fromrepparttar outside. We are totally and absolutely reliant on your introspection and my introspection. There is no way anyone can prove that my "sadness" is even remotely similar to your sadness. I may be feeling or experiencing something that you might find hilarious and not sad at all. Still, I call it "sadness" and I empathize with you.

This would not have been that grave if empathy hadn't beenrepparttar 126191 cornerstone of morality.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1999 Edition:

"Empathy and other forms of social awareness are important inrepparttar 126192 development of a moral sense. Morality embraces a person's beliefs aboutrepparttar 126193 appropriateness or goodness of what he does, thinks, or feels... Childhood is ...repparttar 126194 time at which moral standards begin to develop in a process that often extends well into adulthood. The American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg hypothesized that people's development of moral standards passes through stages that can be grouped into three moral levels...

Atrepparttar 126195 third level, that of postconventional moral reasoning,repparttar 126196 adult bases his moral standards on principles that he himself has evaluated and that he accepts as inherently valid, regardless of society's opinion. He is aware ofrepparttar 126197 arbitrary, subjective nature of social standards and rules, which he regards as relative rather than absolute in authority.

Thusrepparttar 126198 bases for justifying moral standards pass from avoidance of punishment to avoidance of adult disapproval and rejection to avoidance of internal guilt and self-recrimination. The person's moral reasoning also moves toward increasingly greater social scope (i.e., including more people and institutions) and greater abstraction (i.e., from reasoning about physical events such as pain or pleasure to reasoning about values, rights, and implicit contracts)."

But, if moral reasoning is based on introspection and empathy - it is, indeed, dangerously relative and not objective in any known sense ofrepparttar 126199 word. Empathy is a unique agreement onrepparttar 126200 emotional and experiential content of two or more introspective processes in two or more subjective. Such an agreement can never have any meaning, even as far asrepparttar 126201 parties to it are concerned. They can never be sure that they are discussingrepparttar 126202 same emotions or experiences. There is no way to compare, measure, observe, falsify or verify (prove) thatrepparttar 126203 "same" emotion is experienced identically byrepparttar 126204 parties torepparttar 126205 empathy agreement. Empathy is meaningless and introspection involves a private language despite what Wittgenstein had to say. Morality is thus reduced to a set of meaningless private languages.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica:

"... Others have argued that because even rather young children are capable of showing empathy withrepparttar 126206 pain of others,repparttar 126207 inhibition of aggressive behaviour arises from this moral affect rather than fromrepparttar 126208 mere anticipation of punishment. Some scientists have found that children differ in their individual capacity for empathy, and, therefore, some children are more sensitive to moral prohibitions than others.

Young children's growing awareness of their own emotional states, characteristics, and abilities leads to empathy--i.e.,repparttar 126209 ability to appreciaterepparttar 126210 feelings and perspectives of others. Empathy and other forms of social awareness are in turn important inrepparttar 126211 development of a moral sense... Another important aspect of children's emotional development isrepparttar 126212 formation of their self-concept, or identity--i.e., their sense of who they are and what their relation to other people is.

According to Lipps's concept of empathy, a person appreciates another person's reaction by a projection ofrepparttar 126213 self intorepparttar 126214 other. In his Ästhetik, 2 vol. (1903-06; 'Aesthetics'), he made all appreciation of art dependent upon a similar self-projection intorepparttar 126215 object."

This may well berepparttar 126216 key. Empathy has little to do withrepparttar 126217 other person (the empathee). It is simplyrepparttar 126218 result of conditioning and socialization. In other words, when we hurt someone - we don't experience his pain. We experience OUR pain. Hurting somebody - hurts US. The reaction of pain is provoked in US by OUR own actions. We have been taught a learned response of feeling pain when we inflict it upon another. But we have also been taught to feel responsible for our fellow beings (guilt). So, we experience pain whenever another person claims to experience it as well. We feel guilty.

In sum:

To userepparttar 126219 example of pain, we experience it in tandem with another person because we feel guilty or somehow responsible for his condition. A learned reaction is activated and we experience (our kind of) pain as well. We communicate it torepparttar 126220 other person and an agreement of empathy is struck between us.

We attribute feelings, sensations and experiences torepparttar 126221 object of our actions. It isrepparttar 126222 psychological defence mechanism of projection. Unable to conceive of inflicting pain upon ourselves - we displacerepparttar 126223 source. It isrepparttar 126224 other's pain that we are feeling, we keep telling ourselves, not our own.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica:

"Perhapsrepparttar 126225 most important aspect of children's emotional development is a growing awareness of their own emotional states andrepparttar 126226 ability to discern and interpretrepparttar 126227 emotions of others. The last half ofrepparttar 126228 second year is a time when children start becoming aware of their own emotional states, characteristics, abilities, and potential for action; this phenomenon is called self-awareness... (coupled with strong narcissistic behaviours and traits - SV)...

This growing awareness of and ability to recall one's own emotional states leads to empathy, orrepparttar 126229 ability to appreciaterepparttar 126230 feelings and perceptions of others. Young children's dawning awareness of their own potential for action inspires them to try to direct (or otherwise affect)repparttar 126231 behaviour of others...

...With age, children acquirerepparttar 126232 ability to understandrepparttar 126233 perspective, or point of view, of other people, a development that is closely linked withrepparttar 126234 empathic sharing of others' emotions...

One major factor underlying these changes isrepparttar 126235 child's increasing cognitive sophistication. For example, in order to feelrepparttar 126236 emotion of guilt, a child must appreciaterepparttar 126237 fact that he could have inhibited a particular action of his that violated a moral standard. The awareness that one can impose a restraint on one's own behaviour requires a certain level of cognitive maturation, and, therefore,repparttar 126238 emotion of guilt cannot appear until that competence is attained."

That empathy is a REACTION to external stimuli that is fully contained withinrepparttar 126239 empathor and then projected ontorepparttar 126240 empathee - is clearly demonstrated by "inborn empathy". It isrepparttar 126241 ability to exhibit empathy and altruistic behaviour in response to facial expressions. Newborns react this way to their mother's facial expression of sadness or distress.

On Empathy - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1999 edition) defines empathy as:

"The ability to imagine oneself in anther's place and understandrepparttar other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. It is a term coined inrepparttar 126190 early 20th century, equivalent torepparttar 126191 German Einfühlung and modelled on "sympathy." The term is used with special (but not exclusive) reference to aesthetic experience. The most obvious example, perhaps, is that ofrepparttar 126192 actor or singer who genuinely feelsrepparttar 126193 part he is performing. With other works of art, a spectator may, by a kind of introjection, feel himself involved in what he observes or contemplates. The use of empathy is an important part ofrepparttar 126194 counselling technique developed byrepparttar 126195 American psychologist Carl Rogers."

Empathy is predicated upon and must, therefore, incorporaterepparttar 126196 following elements:

Imagination which is dependent onrepparttar 126197 ability to imagine; The existence of an accessible Self (self-awareness or self-consciousness); The existence of an available other (other-awareness, recognizingrepparttar 126198 outside world); The existence of accessible feelings, desires, ideas and representations of actions or their outcomes both inrepparttar 126199 empathizing Self ("Empathor") and inrepparttar 126200 Other,repparttar 126201 object of empathy ("Empathee"); The availability of an aesthetic frame of reference; The availability of a moral frame of reference. While (a) is presumed to be universally available to all agents (though in varying degrees) -repparttar 126202 existence ofrepparttar 126203 other components of empathy should not be taken for granted.

Conditions (b) and (c), for instance, are not satisfied by people who suffer from personality disorders, such asrepparttar 126204 Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Condition (d) is not met in autistic people (e.g., those who suffer fromrepparttar 126205 Asperger syndrome). Conditions (e) is so totally dependent onrepparttar 126206 specifics ofrepparttar 126207 culture, period and society in which it exists - that it is rather meaningless and ambiguous as a yardstick. Condition (f) suffer from both afflictions: it is both culture-dependent AND is not satisfied in many people (such as those who suffer fromrepparttar 126208 Antisocial Personality Disorder and who are devoid of any conscience or moral sense).

Thus,repparttar 126209 very existence of empathy should be questioned. It is often confused with inter-subjectivity. The latter is defined thus by "The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, 1995":

"This term refers torepparttar 126210 status of being somehow accessible to at least two (usually all, in principle) minds or 'subjectivities'. It thus implies that there is some sort of communication between those minds; which in turn implies that each communicating minds aware not only ofrepparttar 126211 existence ofrepparttar 126212 other but also of its intention to convey information torepparttar 126213 other. The idea, for theorists, is that if subjective processes can be brought into agreement, then perhaps that is as good asrepparttar 126214 (unattainable?) status of being objective - completely independent of subjectivity. The question facing such theorists is whether intersubjectivity is definable without presupposing an objective environment in which communication takes place (the 'wiring' from subject A to subject B). At a less fundamental level, however,repparttar 126215 need for intersubjective verification of scientific hypotheses has been long recognized". (page 414).

Onrepparttar 126216 face of it,repparttar 126217 difference between intersubjectivity and empathy is double:

Intersubjectivity requires an EXPLICIT, communicated agreement between at least two subjects. It involves EXTERNAL things (so called "objective" entities). These "differences" are artificial. This how empathy is defined in "Psychology - An Introduction (Ninth Edition) by Charles G. Morris, Prentice Hall, 1996":

"Closely related torepparttar 126218 ability to read other people's emotions is empathy -repparttar 126219 arousal of an emotion in an observer that is a vicarious response torepparttar 126220 other person's situation... Empathy depends not only on one's ability to identify someone else's emotions but also on one's capacity to put oneself inrepparttar 126221 other person's place and to experience an appropriate emotional response. Just as sensitivity to non-verbal cues increases with age, so does empathy: The cognitive and perceptual abilities required for empathy develop only as a child matures... (page 442)

In empathy training, for example, each member ofrepparttar 126222 couple is taught to share inner feelings and to listen to and understandrepparttar 126223 partner's feelings before responding to them. The empathy technique focusesrepparttar 126224 couple's attention on feelings and requires that they spend more time listening and less time in rebuttal." (page 576).

Thus empathy does requirerepparttar 126225 communication of feelings AND an agreement onrepparttar 126226 appropriate outcome ofrepparttar 126227 communicated emotions (=affective agreement). Inrepparttar 126228 absence of such agreement, we are faced with inappropriate affect (laughing at a funeral, for instance).

Moreover, empathy does relate to external objects and is provoked by them. There is no empathy inrepparttar 126229 absence of an empathee. Granted, intersubjectivity is intuitively applied torepparttar 126230 inanimate while empathy is applied torepparttar 126231 living (animals, humans, even plants). But this is a difference in human preferences - not in definition.

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