What is “empathy,” exactly? Heinz Kohut, an Austrian-born psychoanalyst, said, “Empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person.” Does our legal system really hinge on our judges’ ability to think and feel themselves into the inner life of plaintiffs and defendants? Sounds more like a job for Oprah or the dog whisperer.
The word “empathy,” according to its Greek derivation, means “physical affection, passion, and partiality.” I thought Aristotle said the law is reason free from passion? And, if justice is blind, I’m fairly certain she’s also impartial.
But more importantly who is on the receiving end of it by Obama’s definition?
How do we administer an empathy test? Will the Judiciary Committee present potential appointees with a hypothetical empathy stress test? “Box of Puppies: Good or Bad?”
Puppies? Good. Empathetic judges? Bad.