• For the past twenty years there has been a virtual consensus in philosophy that there is a special link between fiction and the imagination. In particular, fiction has been defined in terms of the imagination: what it is for something to be fictional is that there is some requirement that a reader imagine it. Derek Matravers argues that this rests on a mistake; the proffered definitions of 'the imagination' do not link it with fiction but with representations more generally. In place of the flawed consensus, he offers an account of what it is to read, listen to, or watch a narrative whether that narrative is fictional or non-fictional. The view that emerges, which draws extensively on work in psychology, downgrades the divide between fiction and non-fiction and largely dispenses with the imagination. In the process, he casts new light on a succession of issues: on the 'paradox of fiction', on the issue of fictional narrators, on the problem of 'imaginative resistance', and on the nature of our engagement with film.

  • For the past twenty years there has been a virtual consensus in philosophy that there is a special link between fiction and the imagination. In particular, fiction has been defined in terms of the imagination: what it is for something to be fictional is that there is some requirement that a reader imagine it. Derek Matravers argues that this rests on a mistake; the proffered definitions of 'the imagination' do not link it with fiction but with representations more generally. In place of the flawed consensus, he offers an account of what it is to read, listen to, or watch a narrative whether that narrative is fictional or non-fictional. The view that emerges, which draws extensively on work in psychology, downgrades the divide between fiction and non-fiction and largely dispenses with the imagination. In the process, he casts new light on a succession of issues: on the 'paradox of fiction', on the issue of fictional narrators, on the problem of 'imaginative resistance', and on the nature of our engagement with film.

  • Empathy

    Derek Matravers

    • Polity
    • 23 Mai 2017

    How can we understand another person's feelings, thoughts, words or behaviour? Through empathy, it is hoped, we might use our imaginations to shift our perspective into another person's, thereby grasping their thoughts and emotions.
    In this insightful new book, Derek Matravers negotiates the evolution of this fascinating concept. He explores the roots of the term in the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, its re-emergence in a new form in nineteenth-century German philosophy, and its resurgence as something different again in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. In doing so, he explores the important role empathy, in all its forms, has played in the study of the mind, the emotions and aesthetics, and in ethics.
    Empathy is an ideal introduction to one of the most absorbing contemporary philosophical debates.

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