Dominic McIver Lopes, An Empathic Eye, Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives, ed. Peter Goldie and Amy Coplan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
What you see can shape how you feel, and the route from seeing to feeling sometimes involves empathy – as you might empathize with a woman you see grieving the death of her child. But empathy also comes from what you see in pictures. Bellini's Pieta? is one among many paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs that evoke empathy – and are designed to do so. Going further, it seems that episodes of empathy triggered by pictures can help build up a person's capacity for empathic response. Indeed, they do so by fortifying the link between seeing and empathy in a distinctive way. To establish this thesis, we need a broad conception of empathic response and also the right conception of what we see in pictures.