Social cognition theories explain how we understand others in social interactions. A new approach, interaction theory, focuses on the phenomenological and embodied nature of what it is like to connect to and
understand others in social interaction. This theory incorporates traditional phenomenological approaches to understanding other minds, and it also gives significant status to the role of empathy. The theory draws heavily on the ideas found in the enactive theory of mind developed by Evan Thompson and Francisco Varela, which is strongly influenced by traditional Buddhist conceptions of the mind. My goal is to present a singular conception of empathy that draws together the phenomenological and Buddhist traditions in
order to explain how our social interactions are as natural, fluid, and accurate as they typically are. In the end, I will discuss how empathy should also be thought of as a skill that can be developed through meditation.

Alan Jurgens

University of Copenhagen

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