Just a few minutes ago, I emailed my mentor a summary of what I have understood so far in my readings. Below is the content of the doc file I attached in the email. I will now await for his comments, insights and corrections.
Sir, so far, this is the summary of what I have read and understood in my readings. I have written in words what I have made in a mind map.
Empathy is an experience of another person’s experience. So, it is first of all an experience. Indeed it is a primordial experience (coming from the “I”) of a non-primordial experience.
Is the experience here a cognition or affection? The primordial experience is a cognition, rather than affection.
If it is a cognition, is the experience an imagination, contagion, simulation, inference, or a perception? Experience is a perception.
If it is a perception, is the experience an outer perception, inner perception, or a different kind of perception? Experience is a sui generis kind of perception. This means that what is perceived by the primordial experience is not physical, but rather the emotional states of another person.
Empathy thus has its object the emotional states of another person. In other words, what is being perceived are feelings. These feelings are non-primordial in nature since they are not mine, but rather the other person’s.
Feelings have four dimensions. These are depth, reach, duration, and intensity. In depth, there are five different kinds of feelings of the other person. These are sensual feelings, general feelings, moods, spiritual feelings, and sentiments.
Only the spiritual feelings (emotions) and sentiments disclose the value systems of the other person. Spiritual feelings disclose world values, while sentiments disclose personal values.
Empathy has three levels. First level is called awareness, where I see or apprehend the person before me. This is done through the senses. The second level is called focus, where I am moved to follow the person’s emotional experience. And the third level is called comprehension, where I have a relatively complete understanding of the person’s emotional experience. Empathy, though, doesn’t have to include the three levels. I may stop on the first or second level, due to various circumstances (e.g. apathy on my part, busyness, or the other person doesn’t want to be disturbed).
Empathy has two types. The first type is sensual. The second type is emotional. Empathy always starts in the sensual type, grasping the other person’s body language. Emotional empathy may happen when I have reached the third level of empathy. The third level of empathy is said to be a springboard for emotional empathy.
I will have to read again and read more, sir. I might have misunderstood some of the concepts. I haven’t dwelt into detail the meaning of emotional empathy, the four dimensions of feelings and the kinds of feelings. I have to read about values and their connection to feelings and empathy, in general.