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The subject of empathy is now receiving more attention than ever before. There are currently calls in many areas of society to make empathy a fundamental element of all political and interpersonal actions. Social scientists consider empathy to be an important social resource in a world characterized by the challenges of globalization, increasing individualization and an endangered ecosystem. Economists such as Jeremy Rifkin (2009) have suggested replacing the US myth of the ‘American Dream’ with the new self-image of an ‘empathetic civilization’.

In its first period (ummer 2021 to winter 2022/23), the CAS Research Focus aimed to provide a sharper humanistic definition of the term empathy and at the same time to focus more specifically on the practices of empathy, for example in theatre. While empathy is currently being discussed in philosophical circles, particularly in the areas of comprehension as well as moral philosophy and ethics, it is also becoming increasingly relevant from both a theoretical and practical perspective in artistic and literary studies on the levels of production, representation and reception. Art and literature are in a position not only to evoke and shape practices of empathy, but also to reflect and critically examine them.

Since summer semester 2023 the working group as well as the perspectives is extended. Psychology (Thomas Ehring, Mario Gollwitzer, Markus Paulus) and economics (Simeon Schudy) are being added to the humanities (Monika Betzler, Claudia Olk, Ulf Otto, Susanne Reichlin).


Research Focus Group



Please find video recordings of this Research Focus here: CASVideo – Empathy.