THE mountain rises. What do we mean when we employ this

form of words? Some mountains, we are told, have originated in an

upheaval. But even if this particular mountain did, we never saw

it and geologists are still disputing about HOW and WHETHER. So

the rising we are talking about is evidently not that probable or

improbable upheaval. On the other hand all geologists tell us that

every mountain is undergoing a steady
owering through its

particles being weathered away and washed down; and our

knowledge of landslips and avalanches shows us that the mountain,

so far from rising, is descending. Of course we all know that,

objects the Reader, and of course nobody imagines that the rock and

the earth of the mountain is rising, or that the mountain is getting up

or growing taller! All we mean is that the mountain looks as if it

were rising.

The mountain looks! Surely here is a case of putting the cart

before the horse. No; we cannot explain the mountain rising by

the mountain looking, for the only looking in the business is

our looking at the mountain. And if the Reader objects again

that these are all figures of speech, I shall answer that Empathy

is what explains why we employ figures of speech at all, and

occasionally employ them, as in the case of this rising mountain,

when we know perfectly well that the figure we have chosen

expresses the exact reverse of the objective truth. Very well; then,

(says the Reader) we will avoid all figures of speech and say merely:

when we look at the mountain we somehow or other think of the

action of rising. Is that sufficiently literal and indisputable?

So literal and indisputable a statement of the case, I answer, that it

explains, when we come to examine it, why we have said that the

mountain rises. For if the Reader remembers my chapter on

shape-perception, he will have no difficulty in answering why we should

have a thought of rising when we look at the mountain, since we

cannot look at the mountain, nor at a tree, a tower or anything of

which we similarly say that it rises, without lifting our glance,

raising our eye and probably raising our head and neck, all of which

raising and lifting unites into a general awareness of something

rising. The rising of which we are aware is going on in us. But, as

the Reader will remember also, when we are engrossed by

something outside ourselves, as we are engrossed in looking at the

shape (for we can look at only the shape, not the substance) of

that mountain we cease thinking about ourselves, and cease thinking

about ourselves exactly in proportion as we are thinking of the

mountain's shape. What becomes therefore of our awareness of

raising or lifting or rising? What can become of it (so long as it

continues to be there!) except that it coalesces with the shape we are

looking at; in short that the rising continuing to be thought, but no

longer to be thought of with reference to ourselves (since we aren't

thinking of ourselves), is thought of in reference to what we are

thinking about, namely the mountain, or rather the mountain's shape,

which is, so to speak, responsible for any thought of rising, since it

obliges us to lift, raise or rise ourselves in order to take stock of

it. It is a case exactly analogous to our transferring the measuring done

by our eye to the line of which we say that it extends from A to B,

when in reality the only extending has been the extending of our

glance. It is a case of what I have called the tendency to merge the

activities of the perceiving subject with the qualities of the

perceived object. Indeed if I insisted so much upon this tendency of

our mind, I did so largely because of its being at the bottom of the

phenomenon of Empathy, as we have just seen it exemplified in

the mountain which rises.

If this is Empathy, says the Reader (relieved and reassured), am I to

understand that Empathy is nothing beyond attributing what goes

on in us when we look at a shape to the shape itself?

I am sorry that the matter is by no means so simple! If what we

attributed to each single shape was only the precise action which we

happen to be accomplishing in the process of looking at it, Empathy

would indeed be a simple business, but it would also be a

comparatively poor one. No. The rising of the mountain is an idea

started by the awareness of our own lifting or raising of our eyes,

head or neck, and it is an idea containing the awareness of that

lifting or raising. But it is far more than the idea merely of that

lifting or raising which we are doing at this particular present

moment and in connexion with this particular mountain. That

present and particular raising and lifting is merely the nucleus to

which gravitates our remembrance of all similar acts of raising, or

rising. which we have ever accomplished or seen accomplished,

raising or rising not only of our eyes and head, but of every

other part of our body, and of every part of every other body which

we ever perceived to be rising. And not merely the thought of past

rising but the thought also of future rising. All these risings, done

by ourselves or watched in others, actually experienced or merely

imagined, have long since united together in our mind, constituting a

sort of composite photograph whence all differences are eliminated

and wherein all similarities are fused and intensified: the general

idea of rising, not "I rise, rose, will rise, it rises, has risen or will

rise" but merely rising as such, rising as it is expressed not in

any particular tense or person of the verb to rise, but in that verb's

infinitive. It is this universally applicable notion of rising, which is

started in our mind by the awareness of the particular present acts of

raising or rising involved in our looking at that mountain, and it is

this general idea of rising, i.e. of upward movement, which gets

transferred to the mountain along with our own particular present

activity of raising some part of us, and which thickens and enriches

and marks that poor little thought of a definite raising with the

interest, the emotional fullness gathered and stored up in its long

manifold existence. In other words: what we are transferring (owing

to that tendency to merge the activities of the perceiving subject

with the qualities of the perceived object) from ourselves to the

looked at shape of the mountain, is not merely the thought of the

rising which is really being done by us at that moment, but the

thought and emotion, the idea of rising as such which had been

accumulating in our mind long before we ever came into the

presence of that particular mountain. And it is this complex mental

process, by which we (all unsuspectingly) invest that inert mountain,

that bodiless shape, with the stored up and averaged and essential

modes of our activity--it is this process whereby we make the

mountain raise itself, which constitutes what, accepting Prof.

Titchener's translation[*] of the German word Einfuehlung, I have

called Empathy.

[*] From en and pascho, epathon.

The German word Einfuehlung "feeling into"--derived from a

verb to feel oneself into something ("sich in Etwas ein fuehlen")

was in current use even before Lotze and Viscber applied it to

aesthetics, and some years before Lipps (1897) and Wundt (1903)

adopted it into psychological terminology; and as it is now

consecrated, and no better occurs to me, I have had to adopt it,

although the literal connotations of the German word have

surrounded its central meaning (as I have just defined it) with

several mischievous misinterpretations. Against two of these I think

it worth while to warn the Reader, especially as, while so doing, I

can, in showing what it is not, make it even clearer what Empathy

really is. The first of these two main misinterpretations is based

upon the reflexive form of the German verb "sich einfuehlen" (to

feel oneself into) and it defines, or rather does not define,

Empathy as a metaphysical and quasi-mythological projection of the

ego into the object or shape under observation; a notion

incompatible with the fact that Empathy, being only another of those

various mergings of the activities of the perceiving subject with the

qualities of the perceived object wherewith we have already dealt,

depends upon a comparative or momentary abeyance of all thought

of an ego; if we became aware that it is we who are thinking the

rising, we who are feeling the rising, we should not think or feel

that the mountain did the rising. The other (and as we shall later see)

more justifiable misinterpretation of the word Empathy is based on

its analogy with sympathy, and turns it into a kind of sympathetic,

or as it has been called, inner, i.e. merely felt, mimicry of, for

instance, the mountain's rising. Such mimicry, not only inner

and felt, but outwardly manifold, does undoubtedly often result

from very lively empathic imagination. But as it is the mimicking,

inner or outer, of movements and actions which, like the rising of

the mountain, take place only in our imagination, it presupposes

such previous animation of the inanimate, and cannot therefore be

taken either as constituting or explaining Empathy itself.

Such as I have defined and exemplified it in our Rising Mountain,

Empathy is, together with mere Sensation, probably the chief factor

of preference, that is of an alternative of satisfaction and

dissatisfaction, in aesthetic contemplation, the muscular adjustments

and the measuring, comparing and coordinating activities by which

Empathy is started, being indeed occasionally difficult and

distressing, but giving in themselves little more than a negative

satisfaction, at the most that of difficulty overcome and suspense

relieved. But although nowhere so fostered as in the contemplation

of shapes, Empathy exists or tends to exist throughout our mental

life. It is, indeed, one of our simpler, though far from absolutely

elementary, psychological processes, entering into what is called

imagination, sympathy, and also into that inference from our own

inner experience which has shaped all our conceptions of an outer

world, and given to the intermittent and heterogeneous sensations

received from without the framework of our constant and highly

unified inner experience, that is to say, of our own activities and

aims. Empathy can be traced in all of modes of speech and thought,

particularly in the universal attribution of doing and having and

tending where all we can really assert is successive and varied

being. Science has indeed explained away the anthropomorphic

implications of Force and Energy, Attraction and Repulsion;

and philosophy has reduced Cause and Effect from implying

intention and effort to meaning mere constant succession. But

Empathy still helps us to many valuable analogies; and it is possible

that without its constantly checked but constantly renewed action,

human thought would be without logical cogency, as it certainly

would be without poetical charm. Indeed if Empathy is so recent a

discovery, this may be due to its being part and parcel of our

thinking; so that we are surprised to learn its existence, as Moliere's

good man was to hear that be talked prose.