Peter J. Rosan
Yeshiva University / Bronx Children's Psychiatric Center, Brooklyn (NY), USA

E-mail:prosan@nyc.rr.com

 

THE POETICS OF INTERSUBJECTIVE LIFE:
EMPATHY AND THE OTHER

 

This paper offers a phenomenological description of an empathic way of being. The dialogical structure that emerges illuminates the invocation of a dance between two that folds back on itself and duplicates the coupling in the depths of one. Subject and other are paired in an intertwining of the fabrics of meaning, forms of knowing, and ethical regard that characterize human encounters. An empathic presence is a form of being with the other. Specifically, the other's expressivity mirrors profiles of and possibilities for the subject and, in turn, the subject lends his/her own sensibilities to an illumination of the other. A circular movement is constituted. The encounter (1) opens with a reflexive revelation or the subject's rediscovery of profiles of self in the other, (2) passes through a middle phase involving a poetics or bringing forth of multiple worlds of meaning (i.e. the subject turns toward the situational referents of the other's expressions even as s/he co-experiences dimensions of his/her own affective, rememorative, imaginative or somatic life evoked by the other), (3) creates a clearing such that a knowing naiveté emerges implicating the subject's realization or vivid sense of the other and nascent comprehension of the autobiographical context encompassing the other, and (4) is finally brought full circle in an existential epiphany or the subject's discovery of self in the new realms of meaning generated by the alterity of the other.