Environmental Ethics

Volume 44, Issue 2, Summer 2022

Matthew HallOrcid-ID
Pages 121-136

Empathy for Plants

Empathy, and its role in human-human and human-animal relationships, has been discussed at length in recent years. Empathy for plants has received little to no attention. In this essay I briefly examine existing theory about human-plant empathy, primarily Marder’s account of a projective empathy. I use contemporary scholarship by Dan Zahavi, as well as phenomenological accounts of empathy, to query this understanding of empathy and to lay the conceptual groundwork for developing an account of empathy for plants in line with Max Scheler’s embodied empathy. In doing so, I sketch an account of the basis for human-plant empathy, including the gestures and behaviors that an empathy for plants may pay particular heed to. The essay concludes by outlining how such an empathy for plants may be developed.