Narrative Fiction as Philosophical Exploration: A Case Study on Self-Envy and Akrasia

In Falk Bornmüller, Johannes Franzen & Mathis Lessau (eds.), Literature as Thought Experiment. Wilhelm Fink (2019)
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This paper explores one of Unamuno's most challeng-ing short stories: Artemio, heuatontimoroumenos (1918). In this text, Unamuno deals with an experience for which he coins the expression ›self-envy‹. Is ›self-envy‹ conceptually sound? Or is it an unsuitable phrase for an emotional state that has nothing to do with envy? The paper proceeds in three steps in order to answer these questions. After presenting Unamuno’s Artemio, heuatontimoroumenos (section 1), the following section considers the notion of self-envy, which I interpret as a singular but instructive case of envy (section 2). My attention then turns to a more general emotional state, which I interpret using the concept of akratic emotion (section 3). The paper concludes with some considerations as to the use of literature as a form of thought experiment for philosophical purposes. In sum, I show that Artemio can be efectively read as a thought experiment in relation to envy and akrasia, i.e., the state of acting against one’s better judgement
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Archival date: 2019-12-17
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