EMPATHY AND THE EXTENDED MIND

Authors

  • Joel W. Krueger

    1. Postdoctoral research fellow at the Danish National Research Foundation, Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen, Njalsgade 140-142, 5th Floor, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark; email joelk@hum.ku.dk.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • with Leslie Marsh, “Mindscapes and Landscapes: Exploring the Extended Mind”; Mark Rowlands, “The Extended Mind”; Lynne Rudder Baker, “Persons and the Extended-Mind Thesis”; Teed Rockwell, “Minds, Intrinsic Properties, and Madhyamaka Buddhism”; Joel W. Krueger, “Empathy and the Extended Mind”; Leonard Angel, “Quintuple Extension: Mind, Body, Humanism, Religion, Secularism”; and Matthew Day, “Constructing Religion without The Social: Durkheim, Latour, and Extended Cognition”

Abstract.

I draw upon the conceptual resources of the extended mind thesis (EM) to analyze empathy and interpersonal understanding. Against the dominant mentalistic paradigm, I argue that empathy is fundamentally an extended bodily activity and that much of our social understanding happens outside of the head. First, I look at how the two dominant models of interpersonal understanding, theory theory and simulation theory, portray the cognitive link between folk psychology and empathy. Next, I challenge their internalist orthodoxy and offer an alternative “extended” characterization of empathy. In support of this characterization, I analyze some narratives of individuals with Moebius syndrome, a kind of expressive deficit resulting from bilateral facial paralysis. I conclude by discussing how a Zen Buddhist ethics of responsiveness is helpful for articulating the practical significance of an extended, body-based account of empathy.

Ancillary