Hermeneutics of empathy

To understand the existence of self as being-in-the-world as Dasein and not as some transcendental ego that can be abstracted from the world, the question of empathy, which is a mode of being integral to nursing care, invites a hermeneutic approach. Dasein, being the fundamental mode of being in which its thrownness (Geworfenheit) is defined by its possibilities in a temporal world, discovers in empathy the possibilities of oneself in others. This in fact forms a uniquely existential argument against solipsism.

In the context of patient care, disease is both actuality and potentiality. While the patient’s Dasein is determined by disease – more profoundly in the case of life-threatening illness such as cancer -, the healthy, too, sees in the patient the possibility of being diseased, even in the same way such as being affilicted by cancer, in oneself. When looked closely enough, the other becomes a mirror for the self. Such reflection highlights the reflective quality of thought itself: the thinking of Dasein is none other than thinking in Mitsein: Dasein being-with-one-another. Hermeneutics, then, is the interpretation of this ontological facticity of self and other in Mitsein, which, in terms of understanding of being, can be called Mitdasein, which forms the horizon of empathy. This is an existential moment in its own right.

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