Attention can be placed on others. Now it is you on whom one’s attention is placed, and what one accesses in focusing on you are your mental states. One does not experience them directly; rather, your movements provide focal attention with a causal channel: they ‘intimate’ your thoughts to one. Empathy is analogous to listening to another, itself a kind of attention. So empathy, one’s awareness of another in their otherness, is an attentional state. While phenomenologists have claimed that empathy, the ability to apprehend the beliefs and emotions of others, is a perceptual skill, this chapter will argue instead that empathy is a distinct kind of attention, attention through embodied comportment to the feelings, commitments, and wishes of others.
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