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On Historical Distance$
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Mark Salber Phillips

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300140378

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300140378.001.0001

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“What Sympathy then Touches Every Human Heart!”

“What Sympathy then Touches Every Human Heart!”

Emotional Identification in Enlightenment and Romantic Histories

(p.79) 4 “What Sympathy then Touches Every Human Heart!”
On Historical Distance

Mark Salber Phillips

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the conflict between David Hume's support for the role of sentiment in history and his nineteenth-century critics' view of his work as being “crippled” by abstraction. It attempts to resolve this contradiction by recognizing that histories work with multiple distances, often in ways that later ages find inconsistent. It also suggests that while Hume placed much emphasis on the need to engage the reader's emotions, he believed that the reader's affective identification with the past remains quite separate from the conceptual framework that gives history its intelligibility. This chapter also considers the concept of participatory engagement.

Keywords:   David Hume, sentiment in history, abstraction, multiple distance, reader's emotions, affective identification, participatory engagement

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