Center for Advanced Studies LMU (CAS)

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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’.

The CAS Research Focus aims 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.

The Research Focus pursues the goal of using conceptional and historical reflection on the term empathy to open up new approaches to the objects and methods of humanistic disciplines, and to add the perspectives of cultural science and humanities to a discussion which has thus far been conducted primarily in terms of anthropological and neurological considerations. The work of the research focus will contribute to the construction of a humanistic theory on the phenomenon of empathy.



Research Focus Group