Empathy: A Way, but not My Way
O.E.D. – Empathy / einfuhlung
- “The power of projecting one’s personality into (and so fully comprehending) the object of contemplation”
- “to feel oneself into it”
- “the feeling-out of other minds”
- “a form of imaginative identification of self with non-self, a feeling-into”
Feeling out, feeling into, projecting one’s experience in order to absorb the experience of another. “In and out of one another’s bodies” (Maurice Bloch), “intersubjectivity” (Daniel Stern).
Notebooks full of conjuring, I’ve dreamt and striven to elucidate or embody, to caress and coerce language to convey or carry-like-a-message the interpersonal convergence, experiential agreement we might be signifying with the syntax and semantics of empathy.
There were moments, instants, it seemed evident, nearly obvious – as when a child ran itself across a brittle late-summer yard, lodging a prickled sticker in the pad of its heel, and hearing its friend following close behind, sensing its similar fate…a kind of “predictive apprehension” become co-mprehension as experience is multiplied, at least observably shared – at least sympathy – a feeling-with, if not –out; and –into.
Two humans losing their loved ones, or spouses enduring the same tragedy?
Experience-learning applied to replicated or duplicated occasions. Similar, perhaps, sympathic.
But “fully comprehending” journeys beyond this.
Apparently, empathy happens when one extends emotion beyond the individual body and absorbs, joins, or feels-into another – a verge of meeting, movement,
beyond into between, meshing as a sunset goes about forming itself, or the creation of fog – something like con-gene-ial requirements. Some of us, hell, all of us (and more) share genes, so this must be possible (we have a word for it after all!).
Our forms, our reach, must be flexible. We share-with, finally, down to our atoms out through our environment, galaxy, and beyond.
EXTENDED – EMBODIED – EMBEDDED
-components of empathy-
…a coordination of coordinations of actions…
(Humberto Maturana / Francisco Varela)
Perhaps empathy, a possibility of intersubjectivity, occurs when subjects extend awareness through a mutual orientation into a consensual domain…each feeling-out the other by feeling-into a shared sensual arena, learned by experience and therefore anticipated predictively…in rare occasions of empathy…simultaneously!?
In other words, based out of our shared genetic realities, generated by the kinds of experiences and “worlds” our species can have, we feel-out of our heartbreak, grief, joy, ecstasy, fear – emotive and sensual experiences – into con-sensual co-ordinated domains of those experiences occurring in some liminal, marginal space verging each; similarly to the way a coastline clearly separates and thoroughly connects sea and land, while both continue going on underneath one another.
Perhaps. But I was not seeking to describe, explain, or indicate empathy in language, my desire was to enact it, evoke it…and in that I have failed…ever to try again.
14 thoughts on “Empathy…Intersubjectivity…efforts…”
Perfect timing. I needed to see someone else’s take on empathy. Thanks. You said it very well, as always.
definitely still working at it 🙂
John, the “uncanny” strikes again. The chapter I read today (chapter 9: Compassion & Assertion) in Rick Hanson’s Buddha’s Brain, is his chapter on the neurobiology and intentional practice of developing empathy. It spoke clearly and astutely around the comfort of compassion and the solidity of assertion needed for true intersubjectivity. I highly recommend the book as a whole, but also think you’d delight in this chapter. He spoke of “empathy” as “mindfulness meditation on another’s inner world.”
Brilliant! Time to find my Kindle! 🙂
Reblogged this on Poetry Inspector aka Simple Pleasures and commented:
I’ve always been a fan/follower of Alain de Botton – have you read his recent “Religion for Atheists”? I tink you might like it 🙂
I do not think you failed. At all. When one can read such work as yours, and think, “Me, too,” then you have not failed.
Thank you – sometimes I think that hope for a “me too” out there spurs the whole enterprise for me.
Me, too. 🙂
I’ve probably missed the point completely, but I can’t help thinking about riding a bicycle along a road trying to ride a bicycle. You can laugh if you like, I won’t mind. 🙂