An inquiry on radical empathy and the phenomenological reduction in Sartre and Merleau-Ponty

Elisa Magrì

pp. 323-341

In this paper, I wish to explore the contribution of the phenomenological reduction to a distinct form of empathy, which has been identified and called by Ratcliffe (Inquiry 55(5):473–495, 2012) radical empathy. This form of empathy brings to light the sense of reality experienced by the subject rather than a mere mental state. However, I shall consider whether and how the phenomenological reduction allows different interpretations of the same experience, thereby impacting on our understanding of another's sense of reality. Far from dismissing the role of the reduction, I propose a reconsideration of its relevance for radical empathy. In order to spell out my argument, I propose a case ex negativo that looks at Sartre's and Merleau-Ponty's different analyses of the sense of reality experienced by obsessive patients. I argue that this interpretative difference ultimately depends on two opposite uses of the reduction itself, and that Merleau-Ponty's account offers a promising perspective to reintegrate and contextualize the phenomenological reduction into radical empathy.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-018-9445-9

Full citation [Harvard style]:

Magrì, E. (2018). An inquiry on radical empathy and the phenomenological reduction in Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Continental Philosophy Review 51 (3), pp. 323-341.

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