Empatia e conflitto. Per una teoria critica dell’esperienza empatica

The concept of empathy has recently been the focus of two important books published in Italy: the first is Empatie. L’esperienza empatica nella società del conflitto (2018) by Laura Boella; the second is an essay by Anna Donise entitled Critica della ragione empatica. Fenomenologia dell’altruismo e della crudeltà (2019). Despite the diversity of their theoretical frameworks, both studies propose an analysis of empathy that goes back to the authors of the phenomenological tradition and that aims to unravel some of the main clichés that have accumulated around this concept. By discussing Boella’s and Donise’s volumes, we will try to explain how empathy, although it does not in itself improve human beings, can nevertheless prove to be a valuable cognitive tool for discovering the difference that each individual life represents, for taking note of the irreducibility of the other’s perspective, and for reflecting on those forms of conflict that, from personal relationships to geopolitics, are present in our society today.