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Public Lectures :: January 2017

Please see below for all events this month.

16th January 2017

Wilberforce, Lecture Room 30, 1pm

Tyson Retz - 'Empathy in Historical Understanding'

Presented by: The Institute of Applied Ethics

The idea that empathy is necessary for historical understanding raises questions regarding our obligations to people who lived in the past. A rationalist, intentionalist or reconstructivist approach to history presupposes that people acted for reasons good for them at the time, and that the historian’s task is therefore to understand the context in which they acted the way they did. Empathy has long been aligned with this study of historical context, but the nature of this context itself has never been clarified. Is it what people thought and believed, or is empathy the term applied to investigating some other kind of context? In this seminar Tyson suggests that the context that empathetic understanding should attempt to illuminate is that in which it was possible for past agents to hold their beliefs as true and to act upon them accordingly. Tyson proposes that we understand the past not by affirming people’s thoughts and beliefs, but by identifying the conditions that gave rise to their ways of thinking and acting.

Tyson Retz is visiting from the University of Melbourne, where his doctoral research is on the history and function of empathy in historical studies.

Further information:

Admission free - all welcome

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