Empathy, Intentionality and "Other Mind": from Phenomenology to Contemporary Versions of Naturalism





human beings, empathy, other minds, mental reality, intentionality, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, Theory of mind debate


Purpose. This article discusses researching the nature and basic structure of acts of empathy. Such research first requires answering the question: are empathic acts intentional acts of our consciousness? If the answer to this question is affirmative, then there is a need to answer the following questions: what are the features of acts of empathy as intentional ones? And can such acts be qualified as opening a special and complex type of access (epistemic, social, and ethical) to "other minds"? Theoretical basis. The research is based on the problems set by the phenomenological tradition and the developed analytical philosophy, which found their continuation in the philosophy of mind. With the tendency to naturalization, representatives of these areas have another common sphere in the research of mental reality. The changes that both traditions are undergoing can be observed in the transformation of fundamental theoretical concepts such as "intentionality". The linguistic turn gives impetus to the development of new theoretical approaches to the understanding of consciousness, which give preference to the research of language rather than the research in the structure of the Self. The change in methodological guidelines is due to a few factors. In particular, this is a noticeable progress in empirical sciences and the dominance of Behaviorism guidelines in psychology, as well as the fact that the Anglo-American tradition inherits several features intrinsic to British empiricism. Today, three main directions of understanding intentionality can be distinguished. Starting from Brentano and Husserl, we have a classical theory – mental intentionality (phenomenological). As part of analytical philosophy and philosophy of language, we can talk about linguistically interpreted intentionality. Sellars’ model of intentionality has a definite linguistic component. Also, a modern version that functions in the philosophy of consciousness: attempts to naturalize intentionality (this is, for example, the research of Galen Strawson and Daniel Dennett). Originality. The problem is studied not in the context of the phenomenological or analytical traditions in their isolation, but in a problematic-conceptual way, which allows us to reach a new level of generalization and reveal the theoretical advantages of combining both traditions. Conclusions. Empathic Acts can be defined as intentional within the classical phenomenological tradition. As intentional acts, they have their specificity in that they are directed to the "other mind" and can form the basis for the research of intersubjectivity. For the analytic tradition and early philosophy of consciousness, such statements are not obvious. However, discussions about the role of corporality and the problem concerning embodied cognition are becoming increasingly common today. In such discussions, empathy, as an element in the knowledge of others and a possibility for grounding the social sciences, seems more promising than attempts to make epistemic access to other minds possible on the basis of the argument by analogy or on the basis of the inference to the best explanation.


Agosta, L. (2010). Empathy in the Context of Philosophy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230275249 (in English)

Avramides, A. (2019, May 2). Other Minds. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/ (in English)

Bortolan, A., & Magrì, E. (Eds.). (2022). Empathy, Intersubjectivity, and the Social World: The Continued Relevance of Phenomenology. Essays in Honour of Dermot Moran. De Gruyter. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110698787 (in English)

Breyer, T. (2020). Empathy, sympathy and compassion. In T. Szanto & H. Landweer (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Emotion (pp. 429-440). London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315180786-42 (in English)

Debes, R. (2015). From Einfühlung to Empathy: Sympathy in Early Phenomenology and Psychology. In E. Schliesser (Ed.), Sympathy: A History (pp. 286-322). Oxford University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199928873.003.0015 (in English)

Gallese, V. (2003). The Roots of Empathy: The Shared Manifold Hypothesis and the Neural Basis of Intersubjectivity. Psychopathology, 36(4), 171-180. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1159/000072786 (in English)

Libera, A. de. (2016). Intention. In B. Cassin, K. Sihov, & A. Vasylchenko (Eds.), Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles (Vol. 4, pp. 369-382). Kyiv: Dukh i Litera. (in Ukrainian)

MacIntyre, A. (2006). Edith Stein: A Philosophical Prologue. Bloomsbury Publishing. (in English)

Mill, J. S. (1979). An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy (J. M. Robson, Ed.). University of Toronto Press. (in English)

Moran, D., & Cohen, J. (2013). The Husserl Dictionary. Bloomsbury. (in English)

Newen, A., De Bruin, L., & Gallagher, S. (Eds.). (2020). The Oxford Handbook of 4E Cognition. Oxford University Press. (in English)

Overgaard, S. (2010). The Problem of Other Minds. In D. Schmicking & S. Gallagher (Eds.), Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (pp. 254-268). Dordrecht: Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-2646-0_14 (in English)

Sayward, C. (2003). Notes and Discussions: A Defense of Mill on Other Minds. Dialectica, 57(3), 315-322. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-8361.2003.tb00273.x (in English)

Scheler, M. (2017). The Nature of Sympathy (P. Heath, Trans.). Routledge. (in English)

Stein, E. (1989). On the Problem of Empathy (W. Stein, Trans.). Washington: ICS Publications. (in English)

Stueber, K. R. (2006). Rediscovering Empathy: Agency, Folk Psychology, and the Human Sciences. The MIT Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/5833.001.0001 (in English)

Szanto, T., & Moran, D. (Eds.). (2018). Phenomenology of Sociality: Discovering the 'We'. Routledge. (in English)

Thomas, J. (2001). Mill’s argument for other Minds. British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 9(3), 507-523. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09608780110072498 (in English)

Zahavi, D. (2010). Max Scheler. In K. Ansell-Pearson & A. D. Schrift (Eds.), The New Century: Bergsonism, Phenomenology and Responses to Modern Science (pp. 171-186). Durham: Acumen Press. (in English)

Zahavi, D. (2014). Empathy and Other-Directed Intentionality. Topoi, 33(1), 129-142. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-013-9197-4 (in English)




How to Cite

Pankratova, O. S. (2023). Empathy, Intentionality and "Other Mind": from Phenomenology to Contemporary Versions of Naturalism. Anthropological Measurements of Philosophical Research, (23), 105–116. https://doi.org/10.15802/ampr.v0i23.283616