Counterfactual Empathy and Essence As Ensoulment: Dissonance and Resonance With Fichtean Self-Positing

21 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2019

Date Written: May 16, 2018

Abstract

The paper discusses empathy as a necessary constituent feature of moral reasoning. Building on Brannmark (2015), I construct a definition of empathy employing two restrictions and two assertions: the Self Affecting Restriction (SAR), the Person Affecting Restriction (PAR), the Self Affecting Assertion (SAA), and the Person Affecting Assertion (PAA). I provide an adumbration of a counterfactual approach to grounding empathy and argue that a consistent practice of counterfactual empathy requires a concept of human essence, which may be seen as some sort of ensoulment. The approach delineates a logic of the moral subject which asserts the primacy of empathy as a sine qua non of moral reasoning and behavior. I attempt to reinterpret these results in light of Fichtean self-positing. I argue that a standard reading of the Fichtean X of the Wissenshaftslehre is not adequate to Fichte’s purposes, and propose an alternative reading. Finally, I examine similarities and differences between the Fichtean X, under this new reading and the concept of ensoulment under counterfactual empathy.

Keywords: Empathy, Essence, Counterfactual

Suggested Citation

Atkinson III, Mitchell, Counterfactual Empathy and Essence As Ensoulment: Dissonance and Resonance With Fichtean Self-Positing (May 16, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316179 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3316179

Mitchell Atkinson III (Contact Author)

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