Feeling through Things


WINDSOR Mark Richard

Year of publication 2022
Description Some objects we value because they aff ord a sense of connecti on with distant people, places, or events. Visiti ngCanterbury cathedral, say, you encounter the place where Thomas Becket was murdered. Knowing that you are standingin the very place where Becket’s blood was spilled gives the past event a sense of tangible reality. Departi ng fromCarolyn Korsmeyer's recent work on genuineness, in this talk I propose an account of these experiences in terms of acomplex imaginati ve acti vity focussed on a perceptual object, which represents what the object is historically connectedwith as part of the object in the present. This mode of engagement can, I suggest, be thought of as a kind of empathy orempathy-related response. ‘Empathy’ comes from the German ‘ Einfühlung ’, which literally means ‘in-feeling’ or ‘feelinginto’. What is disti ncti ve about the cases in questi on is that what is being felt into is absent: one feels through the object(‘feels’ both in the sense of physical proximity, represented in imaginati on, and aff ect) to what it embodies in virtue of its past.
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