The Mental Functions of Appreciating Fiction

Naoko Ishida


In Fiction and Narrative, Derek Matravers argues that what is fundamental in philosophy of fiction is not the distinction between non-fiction and fiction, but the distinction between confrontation and representation. Moreover, he argues that there is no significant difference between our appreciating fiction and our appreciating non-fiction. His solutions, however, do not fix all of the problems with fiction. There are many similarities between the processes of appreciating fiction and non-fiction, but there are also important differences. In particular, it seems reasonable to think that the responses of appreciators who believe what they read is fiction will differ from those of appreciators who believe what they read is non-fiction. If there are differences in their emotional responses, then the appreciation differs too. I argue that Matravers is not successful in this respect, and explain the peculiarity of our appreciating fiction from the standpoint of mental functions. There are mental function of immersing ourselves in fiction, and also mental function of recognizing the background knowledge required to understand the context of the fictional works. Because these functions work together, we can appreciate fictional works without confusing reality with fiction. 


Fiction; Matravers; Walton

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