Einfühlung – a key concept of psychological aesthetics
pp. 223-243in: Vanessa Lux, Sigrid Weigel (eds), Empathy, Berlin, Springer, 2017
The development of psychological aesthetics in the second half of the nineteenth century was closely connected with the theory of aesthetic empathy (Einfühlung). While aesthetics as a philosophical discipline focused on a rather normative understanding of beauty and a theory of art, the empirical approach in aesthetics in the tradition of Gustav Th. Fechner was primarily interested in categorising and explaining the variety of phenomena of aesthetic experience. In this context, the theory of empathy obtained a pivotal role as a basic concept for explaining aesthetic perception in art and beyond. Allesch discusses the relevant authors of psychological aesthetics, among them the English writer Vernon Lee, and explores the reasons why empathy theory lost influence in the course of the twentieth century.