Exploring Empathy

Its Propagations, Perimeters & Potentialities


Editors: and
Popular interest in empathy has surged in the past two decades. Research on its origins, uses and development is on the rise, and empathy is increasingly referenced across a wide range of sectors – from business to education. While there is widespread consensus about the value of empathy, however, its supposed stable nature and offerings remain insufficiently examined. By critically exploring different perspectives and aspects of empathy in distinct contexts, Exploring Empathy aims to generate deeper reflection about what is at stake in discussions and practices of empathy in the 21st century. Ten contributors representing seven disciplines and five world regions contribute to this dialogical volume about empathy, its offerings, limitations and potentialities for society. By deepening our understanding of empathy in all its complexity, this volume broadens the debate about both the role of empathy in society, and effective ways to invoke it for the benefit of all.

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Rebeccah J. Nelems is a Senior Consultant who is conducting her PhD on empathy and youth at the University of Victoria (UVic), Canada. She is a 2015 Trudeau Scholar, and a recipient of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Canadian Federation of University Women awards.

LJ (Nic) Theo is the Head of the Film Programme at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa, where he teaches screenwriting and communications science. His work is on narrative architectures in visual and print media, and vocational curriculum design and implementation.
Introduction: Exploring Empathy   Rebeccah J. Nelems and LJ (Nic) Theo

Part I: Exploring Empathy’s ‘Goods’ and Limits

  Empathy as Orientation Rather than Feeling: Why Empathy Is Ethically Complex   Steve Larocco   What Is This Thing Called Empathy?   Rebeccah J. Nelems

Part II: Exploring the Affective and Cognitive Workings of Empathy

  Empathy, Complex Thinking and Their Interconnections   Camilla Pagani   Reflecting on Empathy   Gavin J. Fairbairn   Empathy with the Enemy: Can the Intellectually Gifted Experience Empathy with the Intellectually Impaired?   Veronica Wain   Cognitive Milestones on Mutual Paths towards Empathy: A Four-Step Model   Nurit Sahar

Part III: Exploring Empathy in the Media, Arts and Culture

  Empathic New(s) Orientations in Narratives about Sexuality   LJ (Nic) Theo   Art or Science? Formulating Empathy in Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad   Abby Bentham   ‘Gays Are the New Jews’: Homophobic Representations in African Media versus Twitterverse Empathy   Charles King   Seeing the Loop: Examining Empathy through Art Practice   Fiona Larkin
Those interested in the critical aspects of empathy, the role of empathy in society, and effective ways to invoke it for the benefit of all.
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