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What does empathy mean

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In Chapter 16, Rachael Rosen and Rick Deckard have a conversation about Deckard’s assignment, which is to retire the three remaining “andys.” Rachael, characteristically, is bothered by the entire situation.
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“‘You know what I have? Toward this Pris android?’
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‘Empathy,’ he said.
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‘Something like that. Identification; there goes I. My god; maybe that’s what’ll happen. In the confusion you’ll retire me, not her. And she can go back to Seattle and live my life. I never felt this way before. We are machines, stamped out like bottle caps. It’s an illusion that I–I personally–really exist; I’m just representative of a type.” She shuddered” (Androids 189).
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Focus on the concept of empathy. What does empathy mean in the context of the novel? How is it involved with the concepts of community and/or belonging? How might it be connected to ideals of democracy? And not just with the concept of “human-ness.” Doesn’t having empathy for another android make Rachael feel somehow less “individualized”? Why? Is she understanding the concept correctly? Is there a tension between empathy and individualism?
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Read a new article from the Archive of Ideas and refer to it in your post. As always, it doesn’t have to be directly related to your central point, but if it is not, you must explore and explain a relationship to your thoughts.

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