Robert Vischer

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Robert Vischer (22 February 1847, Tübingen – 25 March 1933, Vienna) was a German philosopher who invented the term Einfühlung (esthetic sympathy, later translated in English as empathy), which was to be promoted by Theodor Lipps, Freud's admired philosopher.

Vischer’s use of Einfühlung[edit]

Vischer’s use of Einfühlung (“in-feeling” or “feeling-into”) in his doctoral thesis (On the Optical Sense of Form: A Contribution to Aesthetics—1873) was the first mention of this word in this form in print. His more-famous father, Friedrich Theodor Vischer, had used the term Einfühlen in explorations of Idealism relative to architectural form, and related concepts were certainly already in the air. Indeed, the phrase "sich einfühlen" was used by Herder in the 18th century. Nonetheless, Robert Vischer’s exploration was the first significant discussion of the concept of Einfühlung under that precise name.[1]


  1. ^ Mallgrave and Ikonomou, “Introduction,” In Empathy, Form, and Space: Problems in German Aesthetics, 1873-1893 (Santa Monica, 1994), 1-85.