I really think that this stoic workbook is confusing sympathy with empathy and vice-versa... but it was written by college professors. They should know what they're talking about, right? But how they're describing + definining sympathy is how empathy has been drilled into my head by therapists and teachers...

This is what I've been taught:
- Empathy is understanding another's pain.
- Sympathy is feeling or actively relating to another's pain.

I'll be on this section for the next week so I'll have plenty of time to ruminate on this, but it makes me feel weird to disagree so strongly with the authors.

Here are pics of the section I'm reading, in case anyone's curious. Week 3 reading from "A Handbook For New Stoics".

Forgive me if I'm asking the same question twice. Fedilab shows that I responded only by tagging you but doesn't show any additional text.

Can you elaborate on what exactly you disagree with?

@jakelacaze It's all good. I disagree with their definitions + explanations of sympathy and empathy. It should be flipped.

"To have sympathy with another's distress... is to care for and feel sorry about another's grief or misfortune. To empathize, by contrast means that -- to the extent possible -- you share another's experience on an emotional level."


@jakelacaze More on how the authors explain sympathy:

"We can sympathize even with people we do not know, or whose specific situation even experienced, because we are able to recognize similar situations would be distressing for us and that it would be unjust both for us and for anyone else to have to suffer through them."


@jakelacaze Empathy, as I understand it, is putting yourself in someone else's shoes to understand their perspective for yourself. Sympathy is feeling the pain of a perspective or feeling compassion for another person's pain. Empathy requires reasoning, while sympathy at its core is almost purely feeling.


I've always thought sympathy to mean that you understand that someone would feel bad but don't have personal experience to go along with it. And I've thought empathy to mean that you relate on a deeper level because you do have experience with similar situations.

@jakelacaze That's probably how the authors see it, looking back at the chapter. I think that empathy/sympathy might be one of those weird word couples whose meanings mutate over time. 🤔 It's very debatable.

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