I’m Here to Understand You: The Role of First, Second, and Third-Person Perspectives in Empathy

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Authors
Breit, Julianna
Advisor
Glowienka, Edward
Editor
Date of Issue
2023-04-28
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Series/Report No.
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Title
I’m Here to Understand You: The Role of First, Second, and Third-Person Perspectives in Empathy
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Type
Presentation
Description
Abstract
Colloquially and academically, empathy has a broad meaning, ranging from mimicking emotions to so-called “mind-reading.” In an attempt to unify different philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific approaches, Lou Agosta organized empathy literature into four different dimensions, with each dimension marking a stage of the empathetic process. He calls these dimensions empathetic receptivity, empathetic understanding, empathetic interpretation, and empathetic response. While Agosta richly explains three dimensions of the multidimensional framework, he leaves empathetic response rather undeveloped. This thesis draws on philosophical and neuroscientific research to address this gap. Emphasizing how to evaluate personal roles in empathetic settings, I propose a revised model for understanding empathy's mechanism and consider its implications for friendship and therapy. Ultimately, this thesis aims to provide helpful language for describing the empathetic process in hopes of reducing misunderstandings, emotional contagion, and compassion fatigue.
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Degree Awarded
Semester
Spring
Department
Philosophy