FILO. Module 10: Selected Topic in Phenomenology and Philosophy of Mind: Empathy and Interpersonal Understanding

Course content

How do we understand other people? And what, if at all, is the role of empathy in interpersonal understanding? The last decades have witnessed increasing interest in these questions, and they are still at the center of several interdisciplinary debates about social cognition. For example, the notion of empathy has played a prominent role within the so-called theory of mind debate, in particular for simulation theorists who maintain that we use our own mind as a model when understanding the minds of others. Taking a different approach, some authors drawing on the classical phenomenological tradition have proposed a non-simulationist account of empathy, understood as a form of intentionality that allows us to directly experience aspects of other people’s mental lives. In recent years, discussions about empathy have intersected with investigations about social perception, social interaction, shared emotions, and mutual recognition, as well as with some issues within the fields of social ontology and psychopathology. The aim of this course is to explore the role of empathy in interpersonal understanding from a systematic and historical perspective. It will do so by placing current discussions about empathy within broader debates concerning interpersonal understanding, and by engaging with some of the seminal contributions about empathy provided by classical phenomenologists (in particular, by Husserl, Stein, Schutz, and Scheler).


Kandidatuddannelsen i Filosofi, 2017-ordningen

Type of assessment
Written assignment
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5