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Empathy And Inter-Religious Imagination

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Chapter Summary

Just as a purely historical discussion of the Christian devotion to the Sacred Heart can only begin to offer insight into its meaning for Christians, a purely external description of the ritual motions of a Ganesha puja allows little or no access to the meaning of such gestures in the life of a Hindu. This chapter offers some reflections on the nature of empathy and its role in inter-religious imagination. One of the first requirements for advancing ones understanding of the religious life of the other is a positive disposition toward the other, generally called sympathy. The terms empathy and sympathy were in fact originally used interchangeably, until in the early twentieth century empathy came to be used as the cognitive counterpart of sympathy. One of the important mediators of empathy is actual participation in the daily and religious life of the other tradition.

Keywords: empathy; inter-religious imagination; sympathy



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