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Volume 35

Making Sense of History

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Empathy and History

The Context of Historical Understanding in Reenactment, Hermeneutics and Education

Tyson Retz

282 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-919-6 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Not Yet Published (July 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-920-2 eBook Not Yet Published

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Since empathy first emerged as an object of inquiry within British history education in the early 1970s, scholars have produced a rich literature concerning the concept’s influence on the teaching and learning of history. Yet over the years this scholarship has largely been confined to specialized education journals, while empathy’s broader significance role for history and philosophy has too often gone unnoticed. Empathy and History is the first comprehensive account of empathy’s place in the practice, teaching, and philosophy of history. Beginning with the concept’s roots in nineteenth-century German historicism, the book follows its historical development, transformation, and deployment while revealing its relevance for practitioners today.

Tyson Retz holds a doctorate in history from the University of Melbourne.

Subject: General History Educational Studies


List of abbreviations



Chapter 1. Reforming the Past: Methodological Interdisciplinarity in Academic History and the Search for History’s Defining Characteristics in History Education
Chapter 2. The Influence of the Philosophy of History: The Leeds and London Approaches to Empathy and Rational Understanding
Chapter 3. A Conceptual Portmanteau: A Cluster of Concepts That Introduce Empathy’s Origins in Historicism and Hermeneutics


Chapter 4. Empathy and Historicism: Empathy’s Emergence in the Nineteenth Century and Its Role in Capturing Individuality in the Human Sciences
Chapter 5. Historicism, Neo-Kantianism and Hermeneutics: Empathy in the Hermeneutical Method of Nineteenth-Century German Historicism
Chapter 6. Collingwood and the Continent: Collingwood’s Debt to Italian Philosophy of History and His Repudiation of German Historicism’s Empathy-Dependent Hermeneutics
Chapter 7. Questions, Answers and Presuppositions: The Logic of Question and Answer, the Theory of Absolute and Relative Presuppositions, and Why Re-Enactment Is Not Empathy
Chapter 8. Horizons of Context: With and Against Collingwood in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics


Chapter 9. Competing Conceptions: The Professional, Academic and Political Debate
Chapter 10. Historical Thinking and Historical Consciousness: Two Traditions of Historical Thought in History Education



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