Encountering the Animal Other: Reflections on Moments of Empathic Seeing


The ultimate challenge for psychology as a human science inheres in accessing the experience of the other. In general, the field of psychology has perpetuated the epistemological dualism of distinguishing between the realm accessible by external perception and the realm accessible by inner perception, and hence between the subjective (or “first person” perspective) and the objective (or “third person” perspective), regarding the “first person” perspective as a legitimate means of access only to one’s own private experience, while insisting that all others’ experience must be observed from a neutral “third person” perspective.


By reflecting on his participant-observational encounters with the animal other of the Bonobo, the author attempts to demonstrate in this paper the possibility of a third approach between the antinomy of methodological subjectivism and methodological objectivism as a way out of the dilemmas posed by epistemological dualism.


By Scott D. Churchill