"Seeing-in" and twofold empathic intentionality

a Husserlian account

Zhida Luo

pp. 301-321

In recent years, the phenomenological approach to empathy becomes increasingly influential in explaining social perception of other people. Yet, it leaves untouched a related and pivotal question concerning the unique and irreducible intentionality of empathy that constitutes the peculiarity of social perception. In this article, I focus on this problem by drawing upon Husserl's theory of image-consciousness, and I suggest that empathy is characterized by a "seeing-in" structure. I develop two theses so as to further explicate the seeing-in structure in question: first, empathy as a phenomenologically sui generis act is an intentional fusion of both presentation and re-presentation; and second, empathic intentionality is in essence twofold in that it is at once directed at both the other's sensuously given body and the other's non-sensuously given mentality. In this light, I argue that empathy is better conceived as a quasi-perceptual act that is fundamentally different from external perception simpliciter and other complex acts such as signitive, recollective and imaginative intention.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-017-9432-6

Full citation:

Luo, Z. (2018). "Seeing-in" and twofold empathic intentionality: a Husserlian account. Continental Philosophy Review 51 (3), pp. 301-321.

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