Liverpool, 26.-28. Juni 2023

HDIF Konferenz Liverpool

Final Conference
: Interpersonal Understanding and Affective Empathy

Speakers: Lizzy Ventham (Liverpool), Antti Kauppinen (Helsinki), Monika Betzler (Munich), Neil Roughley (Duisburg-Essen), Thomas Schramme (Liverpool), Amy Kind (Claremont McKenna), Christiana Werner (Gießen), Yujia Song (Salisbury), Katharina Anna Sodoma (Duisburg-Essen)

1.-3. Juni 2022

HDIF Interpersonal Understanding. Transcending Boundaries

​Interpersonal Understanding: Transcending Boundaries?

Speakers: Anja Berninger (Göttingen), Martina Fürst (Graz), Julia Langkau (Geneva), Lucy Osler (Copenhagen), Luke Roelofs (New York), Katharina Anna Sodoma (Duisburg-Essen), Elizabeth Ventham (Liverpool), Christina Werner (Duisburg-Essen), Nick Wiltsher (Uppsala), Lilian O'Brien (Helsinki)

25. Juli 2021

Phenomenal Knowledge and Testimony with Yuri Cath (La Trobe) and Christiana Werner (Duisburg-Essen)

There is a consensus in Philosophy of Mind that Phenomenal Knowledge, i.e. the knowledge what it is like to be in a specific state, can at least in practise only be gained by means of experiencing this state. Nevertheless, many pieces of literature and lyrics of countless songs are about what it is like to be in a specific situation. If the consensus view is right, we cannot learn from literature what it is like to go through experiences. This seems puzzling, because reading literature would turn out to be senseless in this respect.

We will discuss whether a clarified notion of phenomenal knowledge and knowledge what-it-is-like can solve this puzzle. We will also discuss questions like: is there a way to gain phenomenal knowledge via literature, art or our everyday conversations? Can we imagine what it is like to be in a specific situation? If we cannot know what it is like to be in a situation we have not been in before, how can we make decisions about things that have a big impact on ourselves like starting a family or moving to another country? Do we really have no knowledge what it is like to be in new situations at all?

16. Juni 2021

Empathy, Grief and Interpersonal Understanding, with Michael Cholbi (Edinburgh) and Lizzy Ventham (Liverpool)

There’s not only something valuable in being able to understand others, but we also find something valuable in being understood. We cherish many personal relationships where we know and understand the people in question for who they are, and we find can often comfort in being known by others. This workshop aims to explore the relationship between this kind of interpersonal understanding – this empathy – with grief. When we experience grief, do we become alienated from others, and struggle to empathise with others? Do those who struggle with empathy also struggle with grief? Do we sometimes grieve in part because we lose someone with whom we shared a certain kind of understanding, and what does that mean for our identity? What is the relationship between grief and the way we understand ourselves as relational to others? The workshop hopes to explore some of these questions, and more.

27. April 2021

HDIF Interpersonal Understanding and the Limits of Empathy

​Interpersonal Understanding and the Limits of Empathy, with Olivia Bailey (Berkeley) and Katharina Anna Sodoma (Duisburg-Essen)

While empathy can be very important for understanding others and fostering morally valuable relationships, there are also many ways in which our attempts to empathize with others can fail. The workshop looks at two specific limitations to our ability to empathize and explores their epistemic and ethical consequences as well as potential ways to overcome them. For one, our ability to imaginatively engage with others' perspectives seems to be limited by our own "sensibility", that is, a characteristic pattern of feeling and concern, centrally including tendencies to apprehend things in a particular evaluative light. But are we "locked" into our own sensibility? What can the experience of novelists, who seem to be able to access and seamlessly move between different perspectives, teach us about this? Another way in which our ability to empathize is limited is by differences in experience. We look at how this affects how privileged listeners should deal with testimony of oppression. Should they defer or try to understand by empathizing with the speaker?