Annali del Dipartimento di Filosofia (2005) pp. 281-298 Published by Firenze University Press
Recent literature on emotional participation in narratives witnesses a contrast between those who emphasize the role of readers and spectators of narratives as participants and those who emphasize their role as mere onlookers. The former refer to notions like iden- tification, empathy, and what Richard Wollheim calls «central imagining». The latter criticize the idea of identification, and use notions like sympathy and Wollheim’s «acentral imagining». I claim this debate to be vitiated by (1) simplistic accounts of identi- fication and empathy, (2) a lack of attention for the relationships between self- and other-oriented emotions (i.e., empathy and sympathy), (3) a misinterpretation of Wollheim’s central/acentral distinction in relation to another distinction suggested by him, that between «iconic» and «non-iconic» imagining. I defend an understanding – different from Wollheim’s correctly interpreted one – of these two distinctions (central/acentral and iconic/non- iconic imagining) and maintain the importance of iconic and central imaginings to the interpretation and appreciation of narratives.
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