Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

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

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Journal of the Philosophy of History

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.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Melbourne


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Journal of the Philosophy of History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation