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  • Author or Editor: Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar x
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Empathy is sometimes –for unfathomable reasons– a surprisingly evasive emotion. It is indeed a problem open to discussion. It can be particularly problematic since, for one thing, it is in appearance the emotion responsible for stitching together a shared experience with our common fellow. It is the emotion essential to bridging the gap between subjects – to making a community. Some answers in this volume have their place of reference in the welcoming chambers of Mansfield College, at the University of Oxford (UK). The Empathy Project held its third Global Meeting within the premises of ye olde constituent college at Mansfield Road from Thursday 14th to Saturday 16th of July 2016. This volume looks for the common ground between both the results of the conducted research and our experiences: Digital Media ideas on the subject worked just fine elbow to elbow with those proposed by fields like Nursing or Health and Social Care; and Psychiatry, Psychology and Philosophy got along quite well with the lines of inquiry of Education, Literature and Dramatic Performance.

Contributors are Victoria Aizkalna, Rosa Elena Belvedresi, Giovanna Costantini, Ricardo Gutiérrez Aguilar, Irina Ionita, Nina Lex, Gerardo López Sastre, Barış Mete, Paulus Pimomo, Johannes Rohbeck, Judy Rollins, Josefa Ros Velasco and Christopher J. Staley.

Abstract

Melville’s perhaps most famous character, Bartleby the Scrivener – maybe only sharing this Olympus with Ahab–, poses his crux of a problem through the difficulties of a rather succinct operation on mutual recognition: the principal character, curiously enough a lawyer, states that one has to “construe charitably to [ones] imagination what proves impossible to be solved by [ones] judgment”. Bartleby is impervious to any attempt reason and sane judgment do in fathoming his motives. In absence of proper rational justification then, it is recommended an ancillary method, that of a ‘charitable construction’ out of imagination. In this regard, there is no symmetrical relation between the efforts of the lawyer in making an individual out of what is treated merely as an object of ‘passive resistance’, and the total lack of intention in easing the operation of his understanding by Bartleby. Thus, no recognition of any kind. In the present chapter I will try to stress the possible conceptual articulation of the above-mentioned complementary method to the accustomed rational justification as a somehow alternative description to the very act of empathy – or recognition. The first truly act of charity shall be represented under these circumstances in the fashion of an act of moral imagination. Probably just a subjective one. But such an act of attribution – whether self-inscriptive or not – implies a normative burden, a deontic-laden assumption in some cases, that I will try to elucidate with help of contemporary virtue epistemology where an expressivist account of self-knowledge could show its limits. Questions of the sort of ‘what type of expressions merit for the articulation of a biography?’, ‘what type of performative force would have a narrative of the likes of it?’ and ‘which mental states do have normative force?’, will be addressed briefly in order to clarify Bartleby’s experimentum crucis.

In: Empathy: Emotional, Ethical and Epistemological Narratives
In: Empathy: Emotional, Ethical and Epistemological Narratives