Philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote the essay "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" in 1974, an essay that makes one think about empathy by posing this very question.
Our own experience provides the basic material for our imagination, whose range is therefore limited. It will not help to try to imagine that one has webbing on one's arms, which enables one to fly around at dusk and dawn catching insects in (Nagel, 1974:14) one's mouth, that one has very poor vision, and perceives the surrounding world by a system of reflected high-frequency sound signals, and that one spends the day hanging upside down by one's feet in an attic. In so far as I can imagine this (which is not very far), it tells me only what it would be like for me to behave as a bat behaves. But that is not the question. I want to know what it is like for a bat to be a bat. Yet, if I try to imagine this, I am restricted to the resources of my own mind, and those resources are inadequate to the task (ibid:16).
(...) The more different from oneself the other experiencer is, the less success one can expect with this enterprise. In our own case we occupy the relevant point of view, but we will have as much difficulty understanding our own experience properly if we approach it from another point of view as we would if we tried to understand the experience of another species without taking up its point of view (ibid:24). (Nagl, 1974)