International Journal of Contemporary Research In Multidisciplinary, 2023;2(5):51-57

Edith Stein on the Problem of Empathy: A Critique

Author: Judith Gure Gwatana
Paper Type: review_paper
Article Information
  • Paper Received on: 2023-08-30
  • Paper Accepted on: 2023-10-21
  • Paper Revised on:
  • Paper Published on: 2023-10-24

In Steins' mind, the problem with empathy is one of meaning and structure. The concept's enigma is characterized by its historical comprehension as well as other sensory acts, which Stein feels are insufficient. Embarking on the challenge of phenomenologically articulating and categorizing what should comprise empathy and an empathic act, she establishes the distinctive meaning of and reference to empathy. Stein successfully tells us what empathy is not but leaves us still with some wonder as to how it should be appropriated in every day’s existence. This systematic breakdown of Stein’s concept of empathy brings to our full comprehension what the phenomenology of empathy means for Stein and points out the lacuna in her explication through an analytical method.


Empathy, Existence, Phenomenology, Edith, Stein


The act of deducing someone's thoughts and experiences from their expressions was the original definition of empathy. The word empatheia, which means bodily fondness or passion in Greek, is the source of the idea (Harper, 2021). However, throughout time, the idea gained traction in Germany as a topic of interest to late-modern and contemporary German philosophers. Thus, in 1908, the word empathy emerged as a translation of the German einfuhlung, which literally translates as "in-feeling." The idea behind this definition of empathy was to transfer one's own imagined sentiments and movements onto inanimate objects in addition to comprehending another person (Psychology Today, 2021). The meaning of the concept of empathy has varied from the onset and has not been reconciled yet. This has also affected its application to certain situations. An understanding of empathy as a shared feeling does not necessarily require a person to be in the other person’s experience or standpoint to share similar feelings with them; it could only require that the person has an understanding of the situation or event, regardless of the dissimilarities between empathizer and empathized. In addition, before the German einfuhlung was introduced to the English language as empathy, the concept of empathy was mostly understood in reference to sympathy. Sympathy simply means understanding someone else’s feelings from a state created in our own minds and sometimes from a distance.





How to Cite this Article:

Judith Gure Gwatana. Edith Stein on the Problem of Empathy: A Critique. International Journal of Contemporary Research in Multidisciplinary. 2023: 2(5):51-57

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