Empathy appears in almost every major religion and system of ethics, but, as is pointed out, it is notoriously difficult to define and categorize. Is it a moral concept, a psychological one, a behavioral one, a social one and so on? And yet, at some point in almost every consideration of therapeutic relationships it is seen as central. It is also to be found in almost all major religious and ethical teachings.
Consider for a moment how the absence of empathy would affect the Golden Rule (in either its positive or negative iteration, i.e., treat others as you would wish to be treated, or do not do to others what you would not wish to be done to you). Compassion it would seem is not possible without empathy.
Review by Mark Welch, PhD