Empathy

A History
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A surprising, sweeping, and deeply researched history of empathy - from late 19th-century German aesthetics to mirror neurons

Empathy: A History tells the fascinating and largely unknown story of the first appearance of “empathy” in 1908 and tracks its shifting meanings over the following century. Despite empathy’s ubiquity today, few realize that it began as a translation of Einfühlung or “in-feeling” in German psychological aesthetics that described how spectators projected their own feelings and movements into objects of art and nature. 

Remarkably, this early conception of empathy transformed into its opposite over the ensuing decades. Social scientists and clinical psychologists refashioned empathy to require the deliberate putting aside of one’s feelings to more accurately understand another’s. By the end of World War II, interpersonal empathy entered the mainstream, appearing in advice columns, popular radio and TV, and later in public forums on civil rights. Even as neuroscientists continue to map the brain correlates of empathy, its many dimensions still elude strict scientific description. 

This meticulously researched book uncovers empathy’s historical layers, offering a rich portrait of the tension between the reach of one’s own imagination and the realities of others’ experiences. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Susan Lanzoni (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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Deeply interesting, but slightly too detailed

This book is well worth its investment in time and money. However, while the reader speaks clearly, she also sounds a bit monotone at time. And while the book is rich in subject, it tends to focus too deeply at times on the people behind the history, instead of the thoughts, experiments and conclusions, which is the real interesting part, so I had to listen at high speed and spent a long time before completing this book.

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  • Oli
  • 10-18-19

An interesting history of a timeless concept

I enjoyed this book but found the presentation a little paradoxical. The book is concerned with the development of the definition of the term 'empathy' and does a great job telling the stories of the individual psychologists, critics and thinkers who were all involved in this journey. The 'idea' of empathy however is clearly threaded throughout all religious teachings amd philosophical thought through the ages and I felt there was not enough attention given to these previous expressions of the idea or concept that the term 'empathy' has eventually nailed down with its current definition. I think a discussion on this in the context of the rise of industry, scientific and mechanistic thinking with subsequent decline in religious identification would have helped root the book in a broader historical context. A good listen nonetheless.