Seriously, though, could you be locked in a room with someone honestly sobbing and not feel the smallest pang? I think it's more a matter of degree than something mystic.
I think you can agree that some people are more emotionally sensitive and open than others. I would guess the NFPs are at the more open end. I think I was dysfunctionally open and sensitive at one point in my life. I doubt it's even typical for most NFPs, but clearly there are some who were that way at some point in their life. I don't see it as something self-aggrandizing, though. Merely unpleasant.
Who hasn't felt lust, shame, digust, mourned something? Are you claiming that NFPs haven't felt those things, too, and so can't make a strong connection?I know for me, my empathy is bound to situations I've personally experienced. When someone says they have/had a family member who has cancer and all the effects of that I feel like I can safely say I empathize. When someone speaks of racism and sexism I empathize. I have once before in my life felt like I was going to murder someone. I've seen red before. Whenever my mother's face scrunches up in pain, I feel that to my soul. I've felt anger, love, lust, shame, disgust, happiness, contentedness, etc. so I'm fully aware that if I've felt it I can make a strong connection to how I've felt and the way another person feels/felt.
We don't know, either. We can't know. But we tend to empathize with what we perceive, whether it's accurate or not.I admit to not having the ability to automatically know what another person is feeling if I've never felt it or been in a similar situation. I understand that's not exactly what Fis/NFPs are saying, but that's the closest approximation I can wrap my head around at this point. I can ask, I can conjecture, I can speculate, I can watch their behaviors and body language and make educated guesses (which can be wrong!) but I don't know.
You never REALLY know what someone else is going through. You've never had all the life experiences they had. You may think you can accurately empathize with someone whose family member is dying of cancer, but what if it's their young child dying of cancer? What if they already had a visceral fear of the disease and now they have to deal with it daily? What if they secretly hated that family member, so now they feel guilty and conflicted on top of everything else? There are a million reasons why your experience may not match up with theirs. There's always some presumption because there's has to be some assumption that your understanding of their emotions has some correspondence to their actual experience.Take this for example (and it's kinda melodramatic but bear with me), if I'm some villager in a war torn country and some American volunteer tells me they know exactly what I feel I would hope for them to fall into a dinosaur sized pile of manure. I'd feel insulted. What would they know of my life? The lesser virtue of sympathizing would be more suited in a situation like this. Sometimes it's more appropriate to admit you don't know what a person feels but still feel compassion for them anyway and stand beside them. Maybe you'll come to develop some empathy in a meaningful and more accurate way.
We could go around assuming that the emotional states of others are absolutely unique and impenetrable. I could go around kicking people who get in my way on the assumption that just because being kicked is irritating and painful for me doesn't mean I should assume that it is for others. If I haven't kicked a given individual before (and who can keep track?) why should I assume their emotions are like mine?
Clearly that's absurd, and we all make daily assumptions that others are like ourselves and that all people are similar in some ways. Seems like you are saying we xNFPs over-generalize and our behavior is unwarranted. That's a reasonable thing to claim, but surely you can see it's a matter of degree.
And sympathy vs. empathy... I'm not sure one's more ennobling than the other. Both involve trying to understand another's emotional state. Both can be wrong. Empathy is just more participative.
Emotions on their own aren't any more useful than any other kind of subjective experience on its own. What empathy does bring with it is a tendency to treat another's perceived emotions as more equal in importance to one's own, because the emotions (when empathy is accurate) are shared. It's harder, though not impossible, to hurt someone if it hurts you, too.
So when is empathy not presumptuous? How can we know? Should we not try to empathize since we haven't gone through their exact situation? None of us have gone through anyone else's exact situation. My identical twin brother had a vastly different childhood than I did, and we grew up at the same time in the same places with the same genes.And synarch, I agree; I find it highly PRESUMPTUOUS to even make such a claim although I don't find empathy itself presumptuous.
Sometimes, I agree, it is presumptuous to claim that we know what someone else is going through. Sometimes we can't know, and we try to empathize, anyway. Sometimes some understanding is better than none. I think it's always a mistake to claim we know exactly what someone else is going through. We can guess, sympathize and empathize. We can't know.
All I was claiming is that I don't see anything wrong with claiming Fi predisposes one towards empathy. I agree it's not a competition, and I freely admit Fe users have plenty o' empathy, and possibly other functions lead to empathy, too.I like these definitions of empathy although there are many out there and I bolded what I think are the most important parts:
- A sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings, with someone or something other than oneself.
- The feeling or capacity for awareness, understanding, and sensitivity one experiences when hearing or reading of some event or activity of others, thus imagining the same sensations as that of those actually experiencing them.
If NFPs want to assert that they have a greater capacity for/predisposed to/more concerned with/biologically hardwired to empathy according to the above then OK. It's not a competition and it will reveal itself somehow.
I can't speak for others, but I didn't feel like jumping into the fray again so soon. I find it unpleasant when things break down.What's interesting to me is why this thread sat here for a couple of days before anyone commented? Maybe people were reluctant to...obviously there's a lot of opinion about this topic anytime it's brought up it typically explodes into this.
But why did it sit here? Maybe that's an indicator of something. Tesla's thread is winding down, people may not have wanted to answer because of that. Maybe people were reluctant to offend FPs? What would that be called? There hasn't been very much FJ comment on this thread and I wonder why that's so as well. Why was the first critical comment in this thread interpreted as an act of aggression?
I agree that it's easy for emotions to run high on this topic, and it doesn't take much to set people off.I believe the best way to get productive discussion about this is to specifically go to individuals who seem capable of calmly discussing this without offense and that in my experience has happened via PMs.
I wouldn't be surprised if a few do, but the majority don't. I wasn't claiming my personal experience as universal. I just thought it illustrative of empathy existing without being intentionally developed. I freely admit that I was a weird kid in some respects.I'm going to have to ask the NFPs I know if this is something they experience though.