Works of fiction are works of the imagination and for the imagination. Gregory Currie energetically defends the familiar idea that fictions are guides to the imagination, a view which has come under attack in recent years. Responding to a number of challenges to this standpoint, he argues that within the domain of the imagination there lies a number of distinct and not well-recognized capacities which make the connection between fiction and imagination work. Currie then considers the question of whether in guiding the imagination fictions may also guide our beliefs, our outlook, and our habits in directions of learning. It is widely held that fictions very often provide opportunities for the acquisition of knowledge and of skills. Without denying that this sometimes happens, this book explores the difficulties and dangers of too optimistic a picture of learning from fiction. It is easy to exaggerate the connection between fiction and learning, to ignore countervailing tendencies in fiction to create error and ignorance, and to suppose that claims about learning from fiction require no serious empirical support. Currie makes a case for modesty about learning from fiction--reasoning that a lot of what we take to be learning in this area is itself a kind of pretence, that we are too optimistic about the psychological and moral insights of authors, that the case for fiction as a Darwinian adaptation is weak, and that empathy is both hard to acquire and not always morally advantageous.
About the Author
Gregory Currie, University of York Gregory Currie is Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. He was educated at the London School of Economics and at the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at universities in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and held visiting positions at the Australian National University, the University of Oxford, and the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.