|About the Book|
As a feeling or instinct for kinship, empathy is rooted in human connectedness - it belongs to the field of emotional forces that attract and repel and alloy. Since empathy springs from a persons sense of oneness with another, it differs fromMoreAs a feeling or instinct for kinship, empathy is rooted in human connectedness - it belongs to the field of emotional forces that attract and repel and alloy. Since empathy springs from a persons sense of oneness with another, it differs from sympathy, which marks a distance between the unharmed perceiver and the injured perceived, and from altruism, which also poses difference by setting between them the objective duty of the unharmed to help the injured. This book is an experiment in empathy: it takes a new step by mapping out the profile empathy had in the creative imagination of Europe in the Middle Ages, the period when European culture took permanent shape. The studies give special attention to how the stimuli of art were used to teach, and hold up for imitation models of empathetic fervour. They identify areas in which the dynamic between insiders and outsiders forced subversive explorations of what it meant to be human. Like falling in love across ethnic, racial, or religious borders, empathy has its dangers, one of which is assimilation to former outsiders. This book is also an emphatic experiment in that it is a collaborative work by a number of scholars in different fields. Each contributor is an acknowledged expert, not only in one area, but also in crisscrossing the artificial borders of academic departments to reveal the interlocking connections that give emotional power to all images, verbal, pictorial, or performative. Thus, a number of themes weave through the whole book: art history, musicology, theology, biography, spirituality, and feminism.