Abstract

"Empathy" and "contagion" are semantically related in their common reference to the suffering of infectious disease, spiritual and physical. How exactly do they differ as inter-personal phenomena? René Girard establishes a link between mimetic behavior and the contagious transference of emotion that spreads through groups of people, resulting in victimage. Jewish philosophers Edith Stein and Simone Weil distinguish such an emotional transference from genuine empathy, which involves a different, ethical stance and a saintly imitation. Empathy for the afflicted individual, in fact, makes one immune to the contagion that too often results in scapegoating.

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 116-131
Launched on MUSE
2004-01-20
Open Access
No
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