If we accept the idea that understanding involves creating meaning for oneself, and we also accept that empathy is a technique for understanding, then it follows that empathy is a technique for creating meaning for oneself; and that is the opposite of "putting on someone else's shoes." By your premises, empathy is putting someone else into your shoes. I'm not (necessarily) questioning your choice to define understanding like this, but if we accept your premises, then describing it as "putting on someone else's shoes" would be misguided at best, deceptive at worse.
When I empathisize with another person I make that other person meaningful to me. I place myself in the picture with that other person.
coberst wrote:When I empathisize with another person I make that other person meaningful to me. I place myself in the picture with that other person.
Again, you've got it backwards. To make another person meaningful to you is to place that person in your picture. It's called being an ideologue. It's only by placing yourself in his or her picture that you are making yourself meaningful to him or her.
The former happens all the time, to be sure; I would even call it inevitable. But it would be very naive, if not deceptive, to mask the former as the latter.
The person with whom I try to understand has no idea that I am doing that. There is no way that person can find meaning for them in what they are not conscious of.
whats the ultimate thing philosophy teaches us? altogether now!
"meaning means whatever you want it to mean"
Well, I'm not that big a students of philosophy...I don't need to know what I mean, I already know what I mean, but I'm interested in knowing what Coberst means.
Because I was thinking about it and I don't think you CAN place yourself in another's shoes unless you've had some communication with that person and you know what their shoes feel like to them.
You might think it sucks to be them, because from what you see from the outside -- that's how you would perceive and experience their specific set of circumstances. But they might be perceiving it differently than you would - whether for better or worse.
I think it always helps to enlighten oneself by hearing things from the horse's mouth instead of accepting a second-hand and uninformed version which is what you'll be getting from simply observing someone else.
My friend's dad was an alcoholic and he told her something that she passed on to me a long time ago - and I've never forgotten it. He told her, "Never compare your insides to someone else's outside". I'd expand that to say, "Never compare someone else's outside to your insides."
If I want to understand a terrorist I must learn all that I can about him. The way to do that is to read books by people who appear to know about such people.
coberst wrote:If I want to understand a terrorist I must learn all that I can about him. The way to do that is to read books by people who appear to know about such people.
If we use extreme examples like terrorists, then yes, it is easy to think that secondary sources are "the" way to learn about people. But almost any other example would suffice to show that secondary sources are only one, and often not the most productive or helpful, of several routes toward what you are calling "empathy." Some of these other routes may require leaving the comfort of one's philosophical armchair, but that's a small price to pay for being able to empathize with a person rather than empathize with a book.
As McLuhan informs us our technology extends our reach. I suspect that our most serious problems both as a nation and as a species is to learn how to live together on a Global level. We must lean how to empathesize with our neighbor but it is far more important and difficult to do so with a person in another nation.
Our culture has a very strong anti-intellectual bias and our people disdain books as a result. Such is a dangerous course for a nation to take.
guess it's the word 'relationship' that causes my confusion. How can you create a relationship in your mind with someone who has no consciousness of your thoughts toward him or her, whether empathetic or not?