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Empathy: What does ever dog owner know?

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#1    coberst


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Posted 06 March 2009 - 08:22 PM

Empathy: What does ever dog owner know?

Letting your dog out side when necessary demonstrates our ability to empathesize with other creatures.

There are various definitions of empathy given by various individuals but almost all of them point to the same meaning.  Empathy is defined as the ability to understand the feelings, thoughts, and beliefs of another person.  Empathy is often characterized as the ability to “walk in the shoes of another”, i.e. to acquire an emotional resonance with another.

In his classic work about modern art, “Abstraction and Empathy”, Wilhelm Worringer provides us with a theory of empathy derived from Theodor Lipps that can be usefully applied to objects of art as well as all objects including persons.

“The presupposition of the act of empathy is the general apperceptive activity.  Every sensuous object, in so far as it exists for me, is always the product of two components, that which is sensuously given and of my apperceptive activity.”

Apperception—the process of understanding something perceived in terms of previous experience.  

What does in so far as it exists for me mean.  I would say that something exists for me when I comprehend that something.  Comprehension is a hierarchical concept and can be usefully considered as in the shape of a pyramid.  At the base of the comprehension pyramid is awareness that is followed by consciousness.  We are aware of many things but we are conscious of much less.  Consciousness is awareness plus our focused attention.

Continuing with the pyramid analogy, knowing follows consciousness and understanding is at the pinnacle of the pyramid.  We know less than we are conscious of and we understand less than we know.  Understanding is about meaning whereas knowing is about knowledge.  To move from knowing something to a point when that something is meaningful to me, i.e. understood by me, is a big step for man and a giant step for mankind.

My very best friend is meaningful to me and my very worst enemy must, for security reasons, also be meaningful to me.  The American failures in Vietnam and Iraq are greatly the result of the fact that our government and our citizens never understood these ‘foreigners’.  We failed at the very important relationship—we did not empathesize with the people and thus failed to understand our enemy.  It is quite possible that if we had understood them we would never have gone to war with them.

If we had empathy with Germany in the 1930s would we have stopped Hitler before he forced us into war?  

If we had empathy with Germany before August 1914 would we have prevented WWI?

Do you agree that we understand our best friend and that we must also understand our worst enemy?

#2    CurlyQLink


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Posted 06 March 2009 - 08:25 PM

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Words to live by.....


#3    Pelican_Eel


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Posted 11 March 2009 - 12:14 PM

Deifinitely. You can learn from your enemies alot too, to help improve your own personality/technique/strategy.  And very often once you understand your enemy, they are not an enemy anymore.

Who needs drugs when you have everything you need inside you?

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