Edith Stein's phenomenology of empathy and medical ethics
In On the Problem of Empathy Edith Stein claims empathy to be a three-step process in which the experiences of the other person (1) emerge to me as meaningful in my perception of her, I then (2) fulfil an explication of these experiences by following them through in an imaginative account guided by her, in order to (3) return to a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences of the other person. Stein obviously employs the phenomenon of empathy to (A) explain how we may access the experiential world of the other person, as well as (B) develop an ethics centred around the notion of personhood. Although it is debatable whether Stein actually succeeds in fully realizing either of these aims in her book, in this chapter I intend to explore how the Steinian theory of empathy could serve both as an experientially based anchoring point of medical epistemology and as a founding ground for medical ethics. Empathy is an apt starting point for medical ethics in that it acknowledges that moral reflection begins in experiencing the suffering of a person, who is in need of help, a starting point that also connects to the question of which capabilities (virtues) a good doctor (health care professional) needs to embody.
Svenaeus, F. (2017)., Edith Stein's phenomenology of empathy and medical ethics, in E. Magrì & D. Moran (eds.), Empathy, sociality, and personhood, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 161-175.
This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.