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Being Me Being YouAdam Smith and Empathy$
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Samuel Fleischacker

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226661759

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226661926.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Empathy and Culture

Empathy and Culture

(p.77) 4 Empathy and Culture
Being Me Being You

Samuel Fleischacker

University of Chicago Press

For all the room that Smith makes for human difference, many social scientists will see Smith as too universalist for their taste. Why suppose that we can enter into the circumstances of any and every other human being? The very capacity for universal empathy that Smith presupposes is likely to be rejected by those who favor hermeneutic approaches to social science, for whom understanding other cultures takes more than imagining ourselves, thickly acculturated as we are, into the shoes of someone with a different upbringing. It is argued that this objection makes an important point but exaggerates the gap between Smith’s and other ways of understanding cultural difference. Johann Gottfried von Herder is often thought to have helped found the hermeneutic approach, and a disputation is staged between Smithian and Herderian empathy. Smithian empathy is shown to be a condition for Herderian empathy, in many respects.

Keywords:   culture, Johann Gottfried von Herder, hermeneutics, social science, difference, universal human nature

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