This part-critical, part-creative project seeks to develop and make deeper the thesis that engagement with art offers the unique potential for generating, diversifying, and expanding empathic capacities. When fully realized, this empathy demands us to be socially and politically active within the context of our communities.

We will begin with a definition of art provided to us by Leo Tolstoy, conditioned by the hermeneutic tradition. We will then develop a theory of embodied care, a branch of ethics that emphasizes apprehension of moral understanding and perspective through feelings and sensations of the body. The embodied care ethicists’ view will then undergo a synthesis with Bertolt Brecht’s theory of audience, which takes art’s function to not be personally affective, but rather socially critical.

The dialectic posed between the care ethicist’s view and the Brechtian view will transform our reactive claim (art cultivates empathic capacities and caring habits) into our proactive claim (art makes active, socio-political demands of its participants). Having harmonized the alleged dichotomy, we will argue alongside the likes of Jane Addams that art makes pragmatically moral and social demands of its audience to be active within the context of their communities, local and global.


Tognazzini, Anthony

Second Advisor

Rudisill, John


English; Philosophy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2019 Dylan M. Reynolds