Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where the Map Is Folded

If the mechanical mind of the human species is as artificial as some philosophers such as Jan Cox have suggested, (when he points to the binary logic of that aspect of mental functioning) then one should be able to look anywhere to see evidence of this.  Look at the conversation around the term 'empathy' for example. You often hear it defined as "feeling another's pain." Such a definition does not bear examination: if you feel another's pain you either take an aspirin or head to the doctor. Whatever is going on with empathy, it is not feeling another's  pain.

What is a better way to define the term? Here is what the dictionary says:

empathy: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

This merely moves the target to another black cup, though. What is intellectual, what is identification, what is vicarious, and so on through the sentence and through the dictionary.
You will not find an answer to how you can be another person and yet not be that person.  

The term empathy points to something that needs to recombine the arbitrary divisions of the intellect in ways the ordinary mind cannot deal with. Within the maps of Jan Cox is a perfectly good answer, but I am not going to quote him. It is too easy, and that means too mechanical. My purpose is just to point to this phenomenon, and how understanding the word, if persistently pursued, is beyond the ordinary intellect. The ordinary mind is designed to divide, to break apart, the external world. (So that it can be rearranged and further human progress) Something else though, besides that wonderful tool, is needed with understanding empathy.