I Am You
The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology and Art
Karl F. Morrison
Important trends in contemporary intellectual life celebrate difference, divisiveness, and distinction. Speculative writing increasingly highlights "hermeneutic gaps" between human beings, their histories, and their hopes. In this book Karl Morrison identifies an alternative to this disruption. He explores for the first time the entire legacy of thought revolving around the challenging claim "I am you"--perhaps the most concise possible statement of bonding through empathy. Professor Morrison shows that the hope for thoroughgoing understanding and inclusion in another's world view is central to the West's moral/intellectual tradition. He maintains that the West may yet escape the fatal flaw of casting that hope in paradigms of sexual and aesthetic dominance--examples of empathetic participation inspired by hunger for power, as well as by love.
The author uses diverse sources: in theology ranging from Augustine to Schleiermacher, in art from the religious art of the Christian Empire to post-Abstractionism, and in literature from Donne to Joyce, Pirandello, and Mann. In this work he builds on the thought of two earlier books: Tradition and Authority in the Western Church: 300-1140 (Princeton, 1969) and The Mimetic Tradition of Reform in the West (Princeton, 1982). "I Am You" goes beyond their themes to the inward act that, according to tradition, consummated the change achieved by mimesis: namely, empathetic participation.
First published in 1988.
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