Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education

By Nel Noddings | Go to book overview

2
THE ONE-CARING

RECEIVING

CARING INVOLVES, FOR the one-caring, a “feeling with” the other. We might want to call this relationship “empathy,” but we should think about what we mean by this term. The Oxford Universal Dictionary defines empathy as “The power of projecting one’s personality into, and so fully understanding, the object of contemplation.” This is, perhaps, a peculiarly rational, western, masculine way of looking at “feeling with.” The notion of “feeling with” that I have outlined does not involve projection but reception. I have called it “engrossment.” I do not “put myself in the other’s shoes,” so to speak, by analyzing his reality as objective data and then asking, “How would I feel in such a situation?” On the contrary, I set aside my temptation to analyze and to plan. I do not project; I receive the other into myself, and I see and feel with the other. I become a duality. I am not thus caused to see or to feel—that is, to exhibit certain behavioral signs interpreted as seeing and feeling—for I am committed to the receptivity that permits me to see and to feel in this way. The seeing and feeling are mine, but only partly and temporarily mine, as on loan to me.

Although receptivity is referred to by mystics, it is not a mystical notion. On the contrary, it refers to a common occurrence, something with which we are all familiar. It does not have to be achieved by meditation, although many persons do enter a receptive state in this way. We are interested here in the reception of persons, however, and we do not receive persons through meditation. Yet a receptive state is required. It can happen by chance when our manipulative efforts are at rest. Suppose, for example, that I am having lunch with a group of colleagues. Among them is one for whom I have never had much regard and for whom I have little professional respect. I do not “care” for him. Somewhere in the light banter of lunch talk, he begins to talk about an experience in the

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Caring: A Relational Approach to Ethics and Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface to the 2013 Edition xiii
  • Preface to the 2003 Edition xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Why Care about Caring? 7
  • 2 - The One-Caring 30
  • 3 - The Cared-for 59
  • 4 - An Ethic of Caring 79
  • 5 - Construction of the Ideal 104
  • 6 - Enhancing the Ideal- Joy 132
  • 7 - Caring for Animals, Plants, Things and Ideas 148
  • 8 - Moral Education 171
  • Afterword 203
  • Notes 209
  • Select Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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