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Similarity and asymmetry

Husserl and the transcendental foundations of empathy

Zurück zum Heft: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2014
DOI: https://doi.org/10.28937/1000107780
EUR 14,90

This article suggests that the asymmetrical structure of the self-other relationship can be traced back to the relation between empathy and transcendental intersubjectivity. Drawing on Husserl in particular, I will first recapitulate the argument that empathy is necessarily preceded by, and built upon, structural implications to potential others, and I will then argue that the empathically encountered actual other is bound to arrive as the fulfilment or concretization of this anonymous, emptily appresented “anybody”. Because of this foundedness, empathy is necessarily built on expectations concerning the other’s similarity, and because of this initial and tacit “similarity thesis” it is bound to have an asymmetrical structure. Towards the end of my paper, I will underline particular ethical implications of this account. Most importantly,I will be claiming that genuine intersubjectivity, and ethical relationship with others, is essentially built on disappointments of our initial subjective expectations.