Progress is hardly a given in the humanities or the suspect sciences. In many ways we are not quite as astute as our grandparents, and they not as much as theirs, and so forth in an infinite entropic regress. Would I trade Montaigne or Stendhal’s psychological acumen for even the best work that comes from social psychology departments? In this short essay I want to show just how good some medieval people, medieval Icelanders to be exact, were at understanding the mental and emotional states of others, and if of others then presumably, though not necessarily, also of themselves. And I hope to show in some ways they were rather more sophisticated than we are.
Miller, William I. "Feeling Another's Pain: Sympathy and Psychology Saga Style." Eur. Rev. 22, no. 1 (2014): 55-63.