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    Responding emotionally to fiction: a Spinozist approach

    James, Susan (2019) Responding emotionally to fiction: a Spinozist approach. In: O'Hear, A. (ed.) Passions and the Emotions. The Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 85. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108748049.

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    Within contemporary analytical philosophy there continues to be a lively debate about the emotions we feel for fictional characters. How, for example, can we feel sad about Anna Karenina, despite knowing that she doesn’t exist? I propose that we can get a clearer view of this issue by turning to Spinoza, who urges us to take a different approach to feelings of this kind. The ability to keep our emotions in line with our beliefs, he argues, is a complex skill. Rather than asking why we depart from it in the case of fictions, we need to begin by considering how we get it in the first place. Spinoza also considers the value of this skill. In his account, fictions function rather like Donald Winnicott’s transitional objects. They enable us to negotiate the boundary between the real and the imaginary in a way that contributes to our philosophical understanding. These Spinozist proposals, I contend, suggest that the questions dominating current debate need to be reformulated.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
    Depositing User: Susan James
    Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2020 14:45
    Last Modified: 10 Jun 2021 03:53


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