Fiction, pleasurable tragedy, and the HOT theory of consciousness

Philosophical Papers 29 (2):107-20 (2000)
[Final version in Philosophical Papers, 2000] Much has been made over the past few decades of two related problems in aesthetics. First, the "feeling fiction problem," as I will call it, asks: is it rational to be moved by what happens to fictional characters? How can we care about what happens to people who we know are not real?[i] Second, the so-called "paradox of tragedy" is embodied in the question: Why or how is it that we take pleasure in artworks which are clearly designed to cause in us such feelings as sadness and fear?[ii] Various solutions to these puzzles have been proposed, but my primary aim is neither to offer a novel solution nor to summarize and critique most of the alternatives.[iii] My focus instead will be on the issue of consciousness and, more specifically, to view these problems from the point of the view of the so-called "higher-order thought theory of consciousness" . Although some work on these puzzles have raised important questions about the nature of consciousness and "aesthetic experience," no attempt has yet been made to examine them in light of a specific theory
Keywords Consciousness  Epistemology  Fiction  Tragedy  Feagin, S  Radford, C
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DOI 10.1080/05568640009485068
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