ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Heart of Reading

A deep engagement with literature calls for imagination underpinned by empathy.

In an article titled “Only Love and then Oblivion” published in the Guardian on 15 September 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, the British novelist Ian McEwan argued that, “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality. The hijackers used fanatical certainty, misplaced religious faith and dehumanizing hatred to purge themselves of the human instinct for empathy. Among their crimes was a failure of the imagination.”

McEwan’s equation of empathy with imagination is increasingly corroborated by the claims of cognitive psychologists such as Jean Decety and Philip Jackson, who state that imagining how others perceive pain holds the key to the neural mechanism of empathy.

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Updated On : 31st Jan, 2018
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