Sympathy, Empathy, and Telepathy
Adam Smith regarded sympathy as a natural tendency of human beings that leads us to become engaged with the public order. That caring about others’ feelings is fundamental for maintaining a sound community or society is in fact a notion that is universally shared. What often troubles us, however, is the simple fact that we are not necessarily as moderate and reasonable as Smith expected us to be. Affective interaction has sometimes been pursued excessively, and its excess can be classified into different types according to the cultural and philosophical background of the society. That is, whereas empathy was highly regarded as a principle of aesthetic criticism both in German Romanticism, particularly in relation to the political beliefs expounded by Carl Schmitt, and in the Japanese kokugaku (国学) tradition established by Motoori Norinaga, who laid emphasis on mono no aware (もののあはれ, empathy toward things), both the United States and the USSR dreamed of the ideal of telepathy on the basis of their scientific progress in the Cold War era. In the following paper, these excessive forms of affective interaction will be examined comparatively, paying attention to their philosophical context.
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