David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 22 (4):487 – 503 (2009)
I argue that the very act of supposing something contrary to fact, and entertaining some possible consequences, is in itself pleasurable. That is, I contend that it is not solely our emotional reaction to the content of our suppositions that motivates us to suppose, but that it is pleasurable to suppose regardless of the content of the supposition. This position helps explain why we spend so much time entertaining such a wide variety of counterfactual situations (in forms such as pretend play, fantasies, or engagement with fictions). It also helps explain suppositions that are not motivations to act, and why we enjoy entertaining so many suppositions to which we would react neutrally, or even negatively, if they were to be truly the case. It provides the seeds of an answer to the paradox of tragedy: why should we find fictional tragedies pleasurable? An account of our motivations to engage in supposing that relies solely on our reaction to the content of a supposition is incapable of explaining all of the phenomena associated with supposing. A position that the very act of supposing is pleasurable provides a better explanation
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