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Caring as the Default of Empathic Direct Perception
Emotion Review  (IF7.345),  Pub Date : 2022-06-01, DOI: 10.1177/17540739221104804
Khen Lampert

The phenomenological understanding of empathy as the direct experiencing of the mental states (feelings, intentions, moods) of others eschews the identification of empathy with caring. At the same time, it leaves open the possibility of sadistic pleasure, indifference, or malice as consequences of empathic experience.In this paper, I intend to defend the place of caring as an inseparable part of the empathic experience, specifically when understood as direct perception. My defense relies on (a) conceiving of attentive concern as a perceptual predisposition, and (b) understanding the caring responsiveness of the empathizer as embedded in her direct perception of the empathee's mental states.My claim proceeds by three steps. Firstly, I will present the need to include caring within empathy through the problem that arises from excluding it. Secondly, I will argue for the presence of active responsiveness, inherent in the phenomenological concept of perception and expressed more explicitly in its Gibsonian understanding. Thirdly, I will propose my understanding of attentive concern as a predisposition, which together with the intentionality attributed to the other (itself also a disposition) forms the pre-perceptual basis for identifying empathy with caring.