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EmpathyPhilosophical and Psychological Perspectives$
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Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199539956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539956.001.0001

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Empathizing as Simulating

Empathizing as Simulating

(p.149) 10 Empathizing as Simulating

Susan L. Feagin

Oxford University Press

The main objective of this paper is to explain a simulation account of what it is to empathize with characters in literary works of art; in particular, that simulating the mental processes of a character is a necessary condition of empathizing with them, and that a simulation of a process must be structurally similar, in relevant respects, to the process simulated. Section I contrasts a structural similarity account with functionalist accounts of simulating a process. Section II rehearses problems with functional and related accounts. Section III explains how desires affect the structure of a mental process and how they help account for the affective quality of experience when empathizing with a character.

Keywords:   simulation, empathy, desires, affect, appreciation, literature characters

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