2012 Lanzoni

Susan Lanzoni is writing a book on the history of empathy.

The Emergence of Empathy: From Aesthetics to Psychiatry (1873-1927) Scholar's Award
February 29, 2008
Susan Lanzoni (Principal Investigator)
In today's academy, the topic of empathy is ubiquitous: it plays a critical role in social neuroscience in the study of autism spectrum disorders; in trauma studies it is a contested means for grasping another's experience of suffering, and in visual studies it is a conduit for the viewer's emotional involvement in film. Despite this recent attention, however, there is little understanding of the historical roots of empathy. "Empathy" is a modern term, a 1909 translation of the German Einfühlung made by the Cornell psychologist Edward Titchener. Einfühlung did not originate in the realm of social or interpersonal psychology as might be expected, but in German psychological aesthetics.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in filling this historical lacuna by charting the emergence of Einfühlung in German aesthetics, its translation into "empathy," and its subsequent adoption by psychiatrists in the United States and Germany in the 1920s. This narrative will begin in 1873 with the German aesthetician's Robert Vischer's use of Einfühlung as an embodied, emotional engagement with aesthetic objects...."

Practicing psychology in the art gallery: Vernon Lee's aesthetics of empathy
Authors, Susan Lanzoni
September 2009
"Late nineteenth-century psychologists and aestheticians were fascinated by the study of psychological and physiological aspects of aesthetic response, and the British intellectual and aesthete Vernon Lee was a major participant in this venture. Working outside the academy, Lee conducted informal experiments with Clementina Anstruther-Thomson, recording changes in respiration, balance, emotion, and body movements in response to aesthetic form. In fashioning her aesthetics of empathy, she mined a wealth of psychological theories of the period including motor theories of mind, physiological theories of emotion, evolutionary models of the usefulness of art, and, most prominently, the empathic projection of feeling and movement into form."

Empathy in Translation: Movement and Image in the Psychological Laboratory
Susan Lanzoni
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0269889712000154
 24 July 2012
"The new English term “empathy” was translated from the German Einfühlung in the first decade of the twentieth century by the psychologists James Ward at the University of Cambridge and Edward B. Titchener at Cornell. At Titchener's American laboratory, “empathy” was not a matter of understanding other minds, but rather a projection of imagined bodily movements and accompanying feelings into an object, a meaning that drew from its rich nineteenth-century aesthetic heritage. 

This rendering of “empathy” borrowed kinaesthetic meanings from German sources, but extended beyond a contemplation of the beautiful to include a variety of experimental stimuli and everyday objects in the laboratory. According to Titchener's structural psychology, all higher thought could be reduced to more elemental aspects of mind, and experimental introspection showed empathy to be constituted of kinaesthetic images. The existence of kinaesthetic images, Titchener argued, formed an incisive critique of the view that thought could take place without images, held by one of Titchener's major psychological rivals, the school of thought-psychologists in Würzburg, Germany. The new term “empathy” in early American academic psychology therefore delineated a kinaesthetic imaginative projection that took place on the basis of ontological difference between minds and things."

Introduction: Emotion and the Sciences: Varieties of Empathy in Science, Art, and History
Susan Lanzoni
24 July 2012
"Emotion and feeling have only in the last decade become analytic concepts in the humanities, reflected in what some have called an “affective turn” in the academy at large. The study of emotion has also found a place in science studies and the history and philosophy of science, accompanied by the recognition that even the history of objectivity depends in a dialectical fashion on a history of subjectivity (Daston and Galison 2010, esp. chap. 4). This topical issue is a contribution to this larger trend across the humanities and the history of science, and yet is circumscribed by attention to a particular kind of emotion or condition for feeling: one centered not in an individual body, but in the interstices between bodies and things, between selves and others – what we call empathy."

A Short History of Empathy
The term’s only been around for about a century—but over the course of its existence, its meaning has continually changed.
OCT 15, 2015
  "The English word “empathy” came into being only about a century ago as a translation for the German psychological term Einfühlung, literally meaning “feeling-in.” English-speaking psychologists suggested a handful of other translations for the word, including “animation,” “play,” “aesthetic sympathy,” and “semblance.” But in 1908 two psychologists from Cornell and the University of Cambridge suggested “empathy” for Einfühlung, drawing on the Greek “em” for “in” and “pathos” for “feeling,” and it stuck."

Imagining and Imaging the Social Brain: The Case of Mirror Neurons

Susan Lanzoni
"In a contemporary setting in which all things “neuro” have great cultural sway, an analysis of the ways in which neuroscience is indebted to the methods and findings of the social sciences has received less attention. Indeed, in the new specialization of social neuroscience, neuroscientists now collaborate with contemporary psychologists and invoke historical psychological theories to help theorize empathy and social understanding. 

This article examines the overlap between psychological frameworks of social emotion and neuroscience in the case of mirror neurons, discovered in the 1990s. Some neuroscientists purport that mirror neurons underlie the social behaviours of imitation and empathy, and have found support for this view of theories of simulation and embodied cognition. They have also invoked pragmatic and phenomenological approaches to mind and behaviour dating back to the early 20thcentury. Neuroscientists have thus imported, adapted, and interpreted psychological models to help define social understanding, empathy, and imitation in many imaging studies."

Empathy’s Evolution in the Human Imagination
What Began as an Aesthetic Response to Art Is Now a Highly Complex Neurochemical Reaction
JULY 17, 2017

"Aesthetic empathy was first described in the 1870s, when father and son art historians Friedrich and Robert Vischer expounded on Einfühlung to explain how we imaginatively bend, stretch, or shrink ourselves to inhabit forms we perceive. To “feel into” a Doric column was to feel it reaching upwards; to feel into a winding road was to sense it hesitating; and to feel into a heavy weight sitting on a pillar was to experience it straining earthwards."