Empatisk förståelse. Från inlevelse till osjälviskhet
Sammanfattning: This treatise examines the nature of empathic understanding, i.e. understanding of what it is like for someone to be in a particular mental state. Its aim is twofold: (1) to explain how empathic understanding is possible, and (2) to explain how empathic understanding can cause unselfishness. The treatise defends a theory that meets both these desiderata. According to this theory (“the simulation interpretation”), empathic understanding requires that a person’s brain performs a successful simulation of the neurophysiological processes that underlie the mental state that is the object of understanding. The simulation interpretation is shown to have several advantages. First, it is consistent with contemporary cognitive science. In fact, several studies in cognitive science indicate that the human brain has a tendency to simulate brain processes. Second, the simulation interpretation makes sense of the phenomenology of empathic understanding. More specifically, it explains how it is that empathic understanding tends to involve a phenomenology that resembles the object of understanding. Third, it explains how empathic understanding can affect a person’s motivational state. Most importantly, it explains why, as been shown by social psychologists, empathic understanding of suffering tends to cause unselfishness. Fourth, the simulation interpretation avoids some difficulties associated with interpersonal understanding. This is because it makes sense of empathic understanding without referring to any comparison between mental states of persons.
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