Empathy and Perspective: A Smithian Conception of Humanity

Professor Samuel Fleischacker Public Lecture: "Empathy and Perspective: A Smithian Conception of Humanity"


Professor Samuel Fleischacker


Professor Samuel Fleischacker's lecture explores Adam Smith's conception of empathy (roughly, what he called "sympathy"), and its connection, for him, with our understanding of our selves. This lecture begins with a comparison between Smith and David Hume on sympathy, moves to the role of perspective-taking in Smith's discussion of the subject, then looks at the degree to which empathy, and perspective-taking, figure in our construction of our identity, for Smith. Fleischacker concludes by suggesting that Smith introduces a new conception of humanity by way of his view of empathy.