Print ISSN 1016-913X
QUINTANILLA, Pablo. Understanding, imagination, and transformation. arete, 2008, vol.20, no.1, p.111-136. ISSN 1016-913X.
The classical conception of empathy holds that to understand another person involves the ability to identify with him in imagination. There are different versions of this thesis, but the common element seems to be that for understanding to be possible, the interpreter must have the ability to simulate the mental states of the agent, or to simulate being him under contrafactic conditions. I will try to show, in the first place, that this conception of empathy has been usually committed to an intentional, transpositional and monadic model of the mind. In the second place, I will try to explore a way to reformulate the concept of empathy, eliminating these elements that might survive in it. This contribution holds that it is better to see understanding as the creation of a shared space in which the person who understands expands creatively his or her own subjectivity, making space for the other, which is also in an important way a process of transformation. This way of looking at understanding tries to explicit and develop some intuitions that can be found implicit in some contemporary philosophers, integrating them with recent discussions in the philosophy of mind and in experimental psychology.
Keywords: understanding; empathy; subjectivity; philosophy of mind.
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