Starting from the Muses: Engaging Moral Imagination through Memory’s Many Gifts

In Brian Robinson (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Amusements. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield (forthcoming)
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In Greek mythology the Muses –patron goddesses of fine arts, history, humanities, and sciences– are tellingly portrayed as the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the goddess Memory, who is of the race of Titans, older still than Zeus and other Olympian deities. The relationship between memory and such fields as epic poetry, history, music and dance is easily recognizable to moderns. But bards/poets like Homer and Hesiod, who began oral storytelling by “invoking the Muses” with their audience, knew well that remembering, forgetting, and imagining are each to be esteemed as, in Hesiod’s words, “gifts of the goddesses.” The economy of memory is an important concern for moral psychology, philosophy of emotions, and philosophy of imagination. This chapter examines ways that amusements, both classically and today, can function to educate moral emotions in and though their multi-faceted engagements with the economy of memory.
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