Publication details for Prof Matthew RatcliffeRatcliffe, M. (2012). Phenomenology as a Form of Empathy. Inquiry 55(5): 473-495.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
- ISSN/ISBN: 0020-174X, 1502-3923
- DOI: 10.1080/0020174X.2012.716196
- View online: Online version
Author(s) from Durham
This paper proposes that adopting a ‘phenomenological stance’ enables a distinctive kind of empathy, which is required in order to understand forms of experience that occur in psychiatric illness and elsewhere. For the most part, we interpret other people’s experiences against the backdrop of a shared world. Hence our attempts to appreciate interpersonal differences do not call into question a deeper level of commonality. A phenomenological stance involves suspending our habitual acceptance of that world. It thus allows us to contemplate the possibility of structurally different ways of ‘finding oneself in the world’. Such a stance, I suggest, can be incorporated into an empathetic appreciation of others’ experiences, amounting to what we might call ‘radical empathy’.