Experiencing the Other. How Expressivity and Value-based Perception Provide a Non-solipsistic Account of Empathy

Maria Chiara Bruttomesso


Abstract: The problem of intersubjectivity has undergone multifold discussions in the philosophical, neuroscientific and psychological fields. Currently, the predominant theories in this ongoing debate contend that simulation or explicit reasoning must ground other-understanding. Yet this contention confines the subject to solipsistic self-projection without actual communication. I will provide an analysis suggesting that the roots of the concept of “empathy” reveal not only a dualistic inner-outer distinction but also an emerging reference to the bodily dimension. I claim that, by examining the verifiable-in-experience ideas of expressivity and dynamical value-based perception, the limits of the Theory Theory (TT) and of the Simulation Theory (ST) are resolved by means of a direct perceptual encounter that implies a unitary and never-isolated subject. I aim at showing that perception-based empathy provides an adequate basis for considering social dimensions from intersubjectivity to shared agency, since it allows for both direct embodied communication in cooperation and for the autonomy of agents involved in a collective domain.

Keywords: Empathy; Expressivity; Embodiment; Perception; Collective Intentionality


Esperire l’altro. Come espressività e percezione fondata sul valore forniscono un approccio non solipsistico all’empatia

Riassunto: Il problema dell’intersoggettività è stato oggetto di diversi dibattiti in ambito filosofico, neuroscientifico e psicologico. Le teorie oggi dominanti si interrogano se debba essere la simulazione o il ragionamento esplicito il fondamento della comprensione dell’altro. Tuttavia, questa discussione confina il soggetto in una solipsistica proiezione di sé, priva di reale comunicazione. Proporrò un’analisi che suggerisce come le radici del concetto di “empatia” rivelino non solo una distinzione dualista tra interno ed esterno, ma anche un riferimento emergente alla dimensione corporea. Sosterrò che, esaminando concetti verificabili nell’esperienza quali espressività e percezione dinamica fondata sul valore, i limiti della Theory Theory (TT) e della Simulation Theory (ST) vengono dissolti dall’incontro percettivo diretto, che considera il soggetto come unitario e mai isolato. Intendo mostrare come l’empatia fondata sulla percezione costituisca una buona base per considerare dimensioni differenti, dall’intersoggettività all’agentività condivisa, poiché riconosce in entrambe una comunicazione diretta incarnata, che rispetta la cooperazione, ma anche l’autonomia, degli agenti coinvolti in dominio collettivo.

Parole chiave: Empatia; Espressività; Embodiment; Percezione; Intenzionalità collettiva

Parole chiave

Empathy; Expressivity; Embodiment; Perception; Collective Intentionality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2016.0036

Copyright (c) 2016 Maria Chiara Bruttomesso

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