Narrative and Character Formation

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 72 (3):303-315 (2014)
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I defend the claim that fictional narratives provide cognitive benefits to readers in virtue of helping them to understand character. Fictions allow readers to rehearse the skill of selecting and organizing into narratives those episodes of a life that reflect traits or values. Two further benefits follow: first, fictional narratives provide character models that we can apply to real-life individuals (including ourselves), and second, fictional narratives help readers to reflect on the value priorities that constitute character. I defend the plausibility of these cognitive benefits against certain worries raised by Gregory Currie and Peter Goldie.

Author's Profile

Tom Cochrane
Flinders University


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