In his paper, "Empathy versus Abstraction in Twentieth-Century German and Russian Aesthetics," Thorsten Botz-Bornstein argues that Alexander Koyré has shown how the crisis of belief incited by Bacon, Montaigne, Pascal, and Descartes made that "man lost his place in the world." The German term Einfühlung (empathy) played an important role in the transformation of the relationship between the person and his/her world at the moment when modern science began to emerge. Botz-Bornstein examines the conceptual links between empathy and Verfremdung (in Russian ostranenie), and style by showing how German and Russian literary critics of the 1910s attempted to retrieve the world with the help of these concepts. Among these theorists were Wilhelm Worringer, Adolf Hildebrand, Oskar Sievers and Russian Formalists such as Victor Shklovsky and Boris Ejxenbaum. Botz-Bornstein retraces the concept of Einfühlung from Schleiermacher through Theodor Lipps to positivism and he also reconsiders the Oskar Walzel's theory of aesthetics. Botz-Bornstein argues that a later generation of formalists managed to retrieve the world not in the form of a presence but of a trace or some other kind of elusive, dynamic structure, or style. The stylizing effect of ostranenie in skaz, for example, lets elements of "oral speech" shine through as a kind of "absent structure."
"Empathy versus Abstraction in Twentieth-Century German and Russian Aesthetics."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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