The Nature of Empathy

Empathy is many things to many people. Depending on who you ask, it is feeling what another person feels, feeling bad for another person’s suffering, understanding what another person feels, imagining yourself in another person’s situation and figuring out what you would feel, or your brain activating as if you were experiencing the emotion another person is experiencing. These are just some of the various notions of empathy that are at play in philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, developmental psychology, and primatology. In this chapter, we will not stipulate a definition of empathy per se. Instead, we will review the development of empathy and purported mechanisms of empathy, whic

How Well Do We Know Others' Minds?

In a recent review of my book "How We Understand Others," Evan Westra challenges the pessimistic assessment of our mindreading abilities. In fact, he perceptively points out, it is very difficult to measure mindreading accuracy with our current experimental paradigms. You can read Westra's insightful review here and my reply here.

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Department of Philosophy

Oklahoma State University

© 2015 by Shannon Spaulding

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