Flexing the imagination

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61 (3):247–258 (2003)

James Harold
Mount Holyoke College
I explore the claim that “fictive imagining” – imagining what it is like to be a character – can be morally dangerous. In particular, I consider the controversy over William Styron’s imagining the revolutionary protagonist in his Confessions of Nat Turner. I employ Ted Cohen’s model of fictive imagining to argue, following a generally Kantian line of thought, that fictive imagining can be dangerous if one has the wrong motives. After considering several possible motives, I argue that only internally directed motives can satisfy the moral concern. Finally, I suggest that when one has the right motives, fictive imagining is morally praiseworthy since it improves one’s ability to imagine the lives of others.
Keywords imagination  aesthetics  ethics
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DOI 10.1111/1540-6245.00110
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References found in this work BETA

Death.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Noûs 4 (1):73-80.
How Can We Fear and Pity Fictions?Peter Lamarque - 1981 - British Journal of Aesthetics 21 (4):291-304.
Identifying with Metaphor: Metaphors of Personal Identification.Ted Cohen - 1999 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57 (4):399-409.

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Citations of this work BETA

Literature and Knowledge.John Gibson - 2009 - In Richard Eldridge (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature. Oxford University Press.
Free Will and Moral Responsibility in Video Games.Christopher Bartel - 2015 - Ethics and Information Technology 17 (4):285-293.
On Judging the Moral Value of Narrative Artworks.James Harold - 2006 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2):259–270.
Ideal Presence: How Kames Solved the Problem of Fiction and Emotion.Eva Dadlez - 2011 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 9 (1):115-133.
Turning to Debris.Mihaela P. Harper - 2012 - Symploke 20 (1-2):227.

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