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California State University, Dominguez Hills
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Latest update: July 13, 2000
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Rambo and the Dalai Lama
Empathy

Review and Essay by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Part of Peacemaking Identity Series
Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata, June 2000. "Fair Use" encouraged.

This essay is based on the discussion of empathy in Gordon Fellman's Rambo and the Dalai Lama, State University of New York Press, 1998.

On pages 150-151, (op.cit.), Fellman offers the following definition of empathy: "Empathy is the apprehending of another's feelings and the feelings of those feelings. In empathizing, people use their own feelings and experiences to guess at the feelings of others and to be willing to feel those feelings with them. . . . empathy differs from identification . . . . It is possible to empathize with Hitler or Charles Manson without identifying with them at all. and the distinction is crucial."

Note the similarity of that statement to the explanation we have given on Dear Habermas that a good faith hearing does not mean that you must agree with the other's validity claim, only that you must listen with evey intent and effort to understand it, empathize with it, if you possibly can.