Save

Why Re-enactment is not Empathy, Once and for All

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Author: Tyson Retz1
View More View Less
  • 1 The University of Melbourne
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution

Purchase

Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€29.95$34.95

Abstract

The misconception still circulates that Collingwood’s doctrine of re-enactment is a concept of empathy. This claim typically arises from the belief that his philosophy of history shares affinities with the nineteenth-century tradition of Romantic hermeneutics. It supposes that re-enactment consists in a unidirectional recapturing of past mental contents, in which are said to reside the pristine meanings of past texts as intended by their authors. By emphasising the dialectical character of re-enactment, this article makes plain that re-enactment entails no such one-sided transferal. It is right to conceive of Collingwood hermeneutically, but not in the nineteenth-century, empathy-dependent tradition. Rather, as Gadamer illuminated in acknowledging the service that Collingwood’s theories provided in the development of his hermeneutics, Collingwood is better understood as proposing a Hegelian-style integration of past and present thought. He reacted against the individualising psychologism of the anti-Hegelian German historicists and emphasised instead the shared nature of language and thought. A proper account of the context that historical investigation ought to recover involves shifting attention from a methodologically inadequate epistemological conception of re-enactment and empathy to a metaphysical one concerned with exposing the foundations of discourse upon which past agents believed, thought and acted. The myth that re-enactment belongs to a discredited hermeneutics of recovery is set against Collingwood’s attempt to depsychologise historical thinking and within his project to reconcile history and philosophy, epistemology and metaphysics.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 237 67 19
Full Text Views 447 133 2
PDF Views & Downloads 242 157 6