By Jonathan Lamb

This paintings represents a concise historical past of sympathy within the eighteenth and early 19th centuries, contemplating the phenomenon of shared feeling from 5 comparable angles: charity, the industry, international exploration, theatre and torture. Sympathy, the surprising and spontaneous access of 1 person's emotions into these of one other, made it attainable for individuals to proportion sentiments so vividly that neither cause nor self-interest may restrict the measure to which people may well deal with others, or act involuntarily on their behalf. The development of sympathy is intertwined with the interval of worldwide exploration evidenced by way of Cook's voyages and the increase of the sentimental novel ahead of being met through transforming into suspicion within the works of radicals resembling Wollstonecraft and Godwin. The historical past of sympathy turns out to contain a dialectic of immediacy and artifice within which the information of what it really is prefer to be another person is alternately the fabricated from involuntary ardour and of wakeful manipulation. The query of social advantage, the place it comes from, the way it is aroused and in what course it has a tendency is ceaselessly being interrogated without certain solution ever rising.

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Additional info for The Evolution of Sympathy in the Long Eighteenth Century (The Enlightenment World)

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63 Locke sees no distinction either between what Hutcheson would distinguish as the affections and the passions. Aversion is a passion just like fear and anger, and desire is what passions precipitate and seek to satisfy. Everything we feel is caused by objects acting upon us, and it is under the influence of those feelings and the circumstances in which they are aroused that the will operates, not as a pure act of intention but as a response to the impressions made by things and to the uneasiness caused by desire.

56 The idea of the ‘sense of things’ has an interesting life in two early novels, Charles Gildon’s Apuleian romance, The Golden Spy (1709), and in Defoe’s Roxana (1724), where self-reflection is shown to be a purely sensate experience, enjoyed equally by things as well as humans. French materialists such as Julien Offray de La Mettrie and Baron D’Holbach enjoyed jousting with the Cartesian idealization of mental self-sufficiency. 57 There are three significant conclusions he draws from this premise.

Of the latter, the passion of delight is the most important because it accompanies any encounter with the sublime; and delight he defines as modified pain. In its most extreme form, delight is caused by the threat of annihilation immediately followed by its removal. Such a threat is experienced in the presence of unlimited power – Burke mentions natural phenomena such as the ocean; animals such as Job’s war-horse and leviathan; and humans such as kings and commanders. 102 Following Longinus, Burke believes that sublime delight involves two pulses, first of terror and then of relief when the menace of annihilation is removed.

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