CFS Workshop with Maibom and Vetlesen
14:20-15:20 Heidi Maibom, University of Cincinatti: "Emotional perspectives"
15:20-15:40 Coffee Break
15:40-16:40 Arne Johan Vetlesen, University of Oslo: "Shaming the victim"
16:40-17:00 Concluding remarks
People complain that the concept of empathy is hopelessly confused. It may refer to taking another’s perspective, to feeling empathic concern or sympathy for that someone, or to having an emotion similar to that of another because that other person experiences that emotion. I argue that people using empathy in such a broad manner are less confused than they are believed to be. My empathizing with your anger, say, is a way of taking your perspective. Indeed, it is the most powerful way of doing so.
"Shaming the victim":
Common sense would assume that in cases of abuse and atrocities, to the extent that shame is experienced by one of the involved parties, then on the part of the perpetrator. However, this expectation is not borne out by empirical evidence. Whether it be domestic partner violence or genocide, as a rule the victim feels and subsequently goes on to carry the shame that is conspicuously absent in her aggressor. Why is this? Though at first glance paradoxical, I shall argue that seeing to it that shame - as well as guilt and blame - be wholly and thoroughly imposed on the victim, so as to weaken and destabilize her very sense of selfhood and her capacities for agency, is a deliberate and crucial feature of human evildoing.