This paper deals with phenomenological distinctions concerning empathy with real persons and empathy with fictional characters. We will introduce both contemporary accounts of our perception of others and Edith Stein’s account of empathy. These theories will turn out to be fruitful in defending our main thesis, i.e. that the differences between empathy with real people and empathy with fictional characters are not structural but just qualitative. We will argue that in both cases empathy is a direct act of perceiving others and their lived experience. However, stemming from Stein’s work, we will underline that empathy with real persons is in principio more vivid and intense than empathy with fictional characters. In order to identify similarities and differences between empathy de vivo and empathy in fiction, we will focus on the following issues: the quality of perception; the motivational context and the “life-world context”; the ontological status of persons vs. characters.
Phenomenological Distinctions Between Empathy De Vivo and Empathy in Fiction: From Contemporary Direct Perception Theory Back to Edith Stein’s Eidetics of Empathy / DE VECCHI, FRANCESCA MARIA; Forle', Francesca. - In: TOPOI. - ISSN 0167-7411. - (2019). [10.1007/s11245-019-09637-6]