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In what ways can phenomenological investigations of empathy benefit from empirical research?2) The relationship between phenomenology and the empirical sciences The following questions may help to rethink this allegedly clear relationship: What can we learn from Edith Stein’s “Zur Kritik an Theodor Elsenhans und August Messer”?
How to view the relationship between a priori sciences and empirical sciences in general?
How to view the relationship between phenomenology and psychology in particular? In what ways precisely can phenomenological investigations benefit from empirical research?
At best one could know one’s inner experience of the phenomena, the colors, sounds, touch, but never the thing itself. It implies that we are indeed prisoners who can’t ever know for certain that there are souls behind the masks we see in the form of human faces.
As a nurse, Edith Stein learned that we know the inner experience of others directly.
They do so by conceding that eidetic phenomenological insights leave room for fallibility and that empirical evidence can reveal that an a priori eidetic finding must be mistaken although the former cannot strictly speaking refute the latter.
This, of course, raises systematic questions that are relevant to any phenomenology in Husserl’s tradition. Can empirical evidence supplement or even defeat a priori insights?If you have access to a journal via a society or association membership, please browse to your society journal, select an article to view, and follow the instructions in this box.Contact us if you experience any difficulty logging in.Since phenomenology is an eidetic, a priori science, such a claim is at least prima facie plausible.As argued in a text drafted by Edith Stein on behalf of Husserl, “Zur Kritik an Theodor Elsenhans und August Messer” (Husserliana 25), the relationship is far more complex.As a graduate student in philosophy in 1915, she had just passed her preliminary exams; all that remained was to pass a Greek exam.For some reason she seemed determined to avoid that last one, because even as she studied for it, she simultaneously inquired at the Red Cross, asking to serve as a Nurse Aid at the military hospital.Her request was accepted; she began providing direct medical care for soldiers who were wounded in battle.She came to work in the post-operative unit, where she witnessed pain, grief, and vulnerability that many of us will never witness in our lives. She wrote of this experience in a letter, “I realize now that my life is no longer my own.” After a year of service in the Red Cross she was finally ready to write her doctoral dissertation.In which respects is empathy similar to and distinct from perceptual experiences?What role does empathy play regarding our knowledge of other minds?