Empathy v. Sympathy

On a recent ‘Little Philosopher’s Walk’, one of our fun ‘Merlin Meanderings’ that we held here at Merlin Nature Preserve, we discussed & explored the importance and value of imagination.  In the course of our conversation, the work of Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, came up — specifically, her conception of empathy.  According to Dr. Brown, empathy is a vulnerable (and beautiful) choice that involves:

  • Perspective Taking (the ability to take the perspective of another being or the willingness to their perspective as their own truth)
  • Staying out of Judgment (remaining neutral)
  • Recognizing emotion in other beings & then communicating that
  • Feeling with other beings (as opposed to just understanding the feelings of another)

To learn more about the difference between sympathy and empathy, watch this imaginative, entertaining & insightful video clip.

We agree! And think that imagination (and philosophical thinking) can play a particularly helpful role in the cultivation of all of these important components of empathy!

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