The Paradox of Suspense Realism

Most theories of suspense implicitly or explicitly have as a background assumption what I call suspense realism, i.e., that suspense is itself a genuine, distinct emotion. I claim that for a theory of suspense to entail suspense realism is for that theory to entail a contradiction, and so, we ought instead assume a background of suspense eliminativism, i.e., that there is no such genuine, distinct emotion that is the emotion of suspense. More precisely, I argue that i) any suspense realist (...) theory must resolve the paradox of suspense, ii) if suspense is itself a genuine, distinct emotion, then in order to resolve the paradox of suspense it must be a radically sui generis genuine, distinct emotion, iii) according to any minimally adequate theory of the emotions, there can be no radically sui generis emotion, and so iv) there can be no genuine, distinct emotion that is the emotion of suspense. Quite simply, if a theory of suspense must entail suspense realism, then we ought to be eliminativists about suspense. This I call the Paradox of Suspense Realism, which I take to constitute a productive viability condition for any theory of suspense, i.e., any viable theory of suspense must be mutatis mutandis compatible with suspense eliminativism.
Keywords Suspense  Emotion  Eliminativism  Aaron Smuts  Robert Yanal  Paradox of Suspense
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DOI 10.1111/j.1540-6245.2011.01458.x
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