The Paradox of Suspense

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2009 (6.1):1-15 (2009)
The ultimate success of Hollywood blockbusters is dependent upon repeat viewings. Fans return to theaters to see films multiple times and buy DVDs so they can watch movies yet again. Although it is something of a received dogma in philosophy and psychology that suspense requires uncertainty, many of the biggest box office successes are action movies that fans claim to find suspenseful on repeated viewings. The conflict between the theory of suspense and the accounts of viewers generates a problem known as the paradox of suspense, which we can boil down to a simple question: If suspense requires uncertainty, how can a viewer who knows the outcome still feel suspense?
Keywords philosophy of art  paradox of suspense  emotion  suspense  paradox of fiction  make believe  imagination  desire
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