The Ethics of Narrative Art: philosophy in schools, compassion and learning from stories

Journal of Philosophy in Schools 5 (1):92-110 (2018)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Following neo-Aristotelians Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum, we claim that humans are story-telling animals who learn from the stories of diverse others. Moral agents use rational emotions, such as compassion which is our focus here, to imaginatively reconstruct others’ thoughts, feelings and goals. In turn, this imaginative reconstruction plays a crucial role in deliberating and discerning how to act. A body of literature has developed in support of the role narrative artworks (i.e. novels and films) can play in allowing us the opportunity to engage imaginatively and sympathetically with diverse characters and scenarios in a safe protected space that is created by the fictional world. By practising what Nussbaum calls a ‘loving attitude’, her version of ethical attention, we can form virtuous habits that lead to phronesis (practical wisdom). In this paper, and taking compassion as an illustrative focus, we examine the ways that students’ moral education might usefully develop from engaging with narrative artworks through Philosophy for Children (P4C), where philosophy is a praxis, conducted in a classroom setting using a Community of Inquiry (CoI). We argue that narrative artworks provide useful stimulus material to engage students, generate student questions, and motivate philosophical dialogue and the formation of good habits which, in turn, supports the argument for philosophy to be taught in schools.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2018-04-23
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
246 ( #18,024 of 50,020 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
44 ( #13,999 of 50,020 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.