Fearing fictionally · Kendall L. Walton. In Alex Neill & Aaron Ridley (eds.), Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates. Routledge. pp. (). University of Michigan Professor Kendall Walton wrote his groundbreaking paper “Fearing Fictions” back in His paper truly merits all the. K. Walton on Fearing Fiction. In Stecker and Gracyk, Aesthetics Today (). This document is a summary of Kendall Walton, “Spelunking.

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And at least some of the principles constituting a personal game of make-believe may be implicit” p.

‘Fearing Fictions’ – Oxford Scholarship

In Section 1we came across one of fictjons most powerful objections to have been levied against the Illusion Theory to date: Solutions to the definitional problem are defined largely in relation to Kendall Walton’s view on the subject. Many of these attacks can be organized under the following two general headings:. By labeling this kind of state ‘ quasi -fear,’ Walton is not suggesting that it consists of feigned or pretended, rather than actual, feelings and sensations.

Quasi-emotions differ from true emotions primarily in that they are generated not by existence beliefs such as the belief that the monster I am watching on screen really existsbut by “second-order” beliefs about what is fictionally kenall case according to the work in question such as the belief that the monster I am watching on screen make-believedly exists. No keywords specified fix it.

Of course, Walton’s position is that the only thing required here is the acceptance or recognition of a constituent principle underlying the game in question, and this acceptance may well be tacit rather than conscious. But there are examples [of fictional works] which are pretty inept, and which do not seem to be recuperable by making ffearing that we are horrified.

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‘Fearing Fictions’

According to Turvey, because we can and frequently do respond to the concrete presentation of cinematic images in a manner that is indifferent to their actual existence in the world, and because there is nothing especially krndall about this fact, no theory at all is needed to solve the problem of emotional response to fiction film.


Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. One such disanalogy concerns our relative lack of choice when it comes to quasi- emotional responses to fiction films and novels. Despite its novelty, as well as Walton’s heroic attempts at defending it, the Pretend Theory continues to come under attack from numerous quarters.

If indeed Walton is correct in maintaining that engagement with fiction is something that Charlie merely pretends to believe, then that would in no way stimulate somatic responses that Walton acknowledges to be automatic.

Walton and Fiction — Outline

The objection here is that, assuming the accuracy of Walton’s account when it comes to children playing make-believe, it is simply not true to ordinary experience that consumers of fictions are in similar emotional states when watching movies, reading books, and the like.

These premises are 1 that in order for us to be moved to tears, to anger, to horror by what we come to learn about various people and situations, we must believe that the people and situations in question really exist or existed; 2 that such “existence beliefs” are lacking when we knowingly engage with fictional texts; and 3 that fictional characters and situations do in fact seem capable of moving us at times.

What are we sad about? Search my Subject Specializations: It is her make-believe uncertainty. Science Logic and Mathematics.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian. This simulation can be genuinely upsetting. As Walton puts it, “Charles believes he knows that make-believedly the green slime [on the screen] is bearing down on him and he is in danger of being destroyed by it.

Walton’s basic insight may be expressed as follows: So his conclusion that our emotional responses to fiction are irrational appears valid and, however unsatisfactory, at the very least non-paradoxical.

Charles gives no thought whatever to such courses of action. Simulating an experience can generate real psychological responses.

Sipping Philosophy

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Author Information Steven Schneider Email: We need a distinction. In response to this objection, Radford offers the following two considerations: In Defence of Fictional Incompetence.


These beliefs are inconsistent with what the spectator—fully aware of where he kfndall and what he is doing—explicitly avows.

It is interesting to note that while virtually all of those writing on this subject credit Radford with initiating the current debate, none of them have adopted his view as their own. Glenn Hartz makes a similar point, in stronger language:. To the extent that one is able to identify significant dis analogies with familiar games of make-believe, then, Walton’s theory looks to be in trouble. Taking it pretty much as a given that 3 such works do in fact move us at times, Radford’s conclusion, refreshing in its humility, is that our capacity for emotional response to fiction is as irrational as it is familiar: That is to say, where the Thought theorist seems to run into trouble is in explaining just why it is the mere entertaining in thought of a fictional character or event is able to generate emotional responses in audiences.

Illusion theorists, of whom there seem to be fewer and fewer these days, deny Radford’s second premise. The consumer necessarily plays a character in this personal fictional world distinct from the consumer herself.

He is not really afraid”p. The words make the person imagine the event, which is to simulate mentally being trapped.

In fact, few issues of The British Journal of AestheticsPhilosophyor The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism have come out over the past 25 years which fail to contain at least one piece devoted to the so-called “paradox of emotional response to fiction.

You are commenting using your WordPress. It is also debatable whether the Thought Theory cannot be revised so as to incorporate the concreteness consideration, by fictionss redefining the psychological attitude referred to by Carroll as “entertaining” in either neutral or negative terms. The foctions “paradox of emotional response to fiction” is an argument for the conclusion that our emotional response to fiction is irrational.

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