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Choi, Jinhee, , . All the right responses: Fiction films and warranted emotions
2003, British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3):308-321.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Cognitive theories of emotions have provided us with explanations of how we emotionally engage with fiction, when we are aware that what is depicted is fictional. However, these theories left an important question unanswered: namely, what kinds of emotional responses to fiction are warranted responses. The main focus of this paper is how our emotional responses to fiction can be aesthetically warranted – that is, how emotions directed to fiction can be warranted given the fact that its object is an artwork. I consider three possible explanations of this phenomenon: the real-life principle, a correspondence model, and a functional model. I argue that the real-life principle and the correspondence model fall short of explaining how our emotional responses to film are aesthetically warranted, and instead I argue that a functional model provides such an explanation. In this paper, I will primarily focus on fiction films, although I will address novels and other art forms where necessary.

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Coplan, Amy, , . Caring about characters: Three determinants of emotional engagement
2006, Film and Philosophy 10:1.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: Western philosophers at least as far back as Plato and Aristotle have been interested in question concerning narrative art: what it is, why it engages us, and how engagement with it affects us. An important part of the philosophical discussion has focused on the relationship between narrative art and emotion, for many have thought the power and influence of anarrative art comes primarily form its ability to arouse strong emotions. In this paper I focus on one type of narrative art: narrative fiction film. In many ways the film viewing experience is ideal for the purpose of promoting emotional engagement. Due to the nature of narrative fiction film and the structure of the viewing experience, watching and experiencing film puts us in a unique position to become cognitively and emotionally engaged while remaining aware of the fact that the object of our engagement is fictional…

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Coplan, Amy, , . Empathic engagement with narrative fictions
2004, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62 (2):141-152.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: There is still little consensus among scholars regarding how best to characterize the relationship between readers of fictional narratives and the characters in those narratives. Part of the problem is that many of the explanatory concepts used in the debate – concepts like identification and empathy – are somewhat vague or ambiguous. In this article, I consider some recent relevant empirical research on text processing and narrative comprehension and argue for a pluralist account of character engagement, in which empathy plays an important role. In Section I, I review several empirical studies that strongly suggest that readers often adopt the perspective of one or more of the characters in fictional narratives. In Section II, I turn to the concept of empathy and provide an explanation of empathy based on models and research in empirical psychology. I focus in particular on self-other differentiation, a critical feature of empathy that has been underemphasized in the literature. Next I discuss two psychological phenomena that are closely related to empathy and often confused or conflated with it: emotional contagion and sympathy. In the final section of the paper, I employ the account of empathy developed in Section II to address Noel Carroll’s objections to the view that readers typically empathize with fictional characters.

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Eaton, Marcia Muelder, , . A strange kind of sadness
1982, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41 (1):51-63.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: HERE IS a Steve McQueen, Jackie Gleason, Tuesday Weld movie called Soldier in the Rain that I watch whenever it comes on the TV late show. I have seen it at least half a dozen times. The first time I saw it, I cried at the end. The next time I saw it I began crying just before the end. Now I choke up when it starts and cry more or less steadily through the whole thing. My husband and son find this exasperating. “Why are you going to watch that if it is just going to make you unhappy?” they ask. What they do not understand is that very few things bring me greater pleasure than watching this movie, crying all the way through. Or perhaps my son does understand when he disdainfully concludes, “You’re crazy”.

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Hsi K'ang, , . Music Has Neither Grief Nor Joy
1983, In Philosophy and Argumentation in Third-Century China. Princeton: Princeton University Press
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: The controversial essay in which Xi Kang offered a distinct counterargument to the orthodox Confucian view that music contains and transfers emotions between musicians and listeners. Xi Kang crafts a series of arguments against the presence of emotions and images in music and contends that the widespread belief to the contrary leads to the misuse of music for political and moral agendas.

Comment: This text is best used in a course on aesthetics (especially philosophy of music) and/or Chinese philosophy. A basic understanding of Daoism is helpful.

Related reading:

  • Essay on Music. Ruan Ji. In Reed Andrew Criddle's "Rectifying Lasciviousness through Mystical Learning: An Exposition and Translation of Ruan Ji’s Essay on Music." Asian Music 38(2), 2007.
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Jaggar, Alison M., , . Love and knowledge: Emotion in feminist epistemology
1989, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):151 - 176.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Abstract: This paper argues that, by construing emotion as epistemologically subversive, the Western tradition has tended to obscure the vital role of emotion in the construction of knowledge. The paper begins with an account of emotion that stresses its active, voluntary, and socially constructed aspects, and indicates how emotion is involved in evaluation and observation. It then moves on to show how the myth of dispassionate investigation has functioned historically to undermine the epistemic authority of women as well as other social groups associated culturally with emotion. Finally, the paper sketches some ways in which the emotions ofunderclass groups, especially women, may contribute to the development of a critical social theory.

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . The Magnetism of Disgust
2010, In: Savoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press. 113-136.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Summary: Korsmeyer’s account of disgust and the role it plays in art appreciation starts with a treatment of what she calls the “paradox of aversion” – the apparent incompatibility between humans’ disposition to seek pleasure and their frequent voluntary exposure to unpleasant and even painful art-related experiences. Korsmeyer’s provisional solution to the paradox is based on the realization that pleasure is not an emotion but rather “an intense absorption in an object that induces us to continue rather than halt an experience.” This opens the possibility that the pleasure we take from a work of art retains a cognitive element such that we gain unique insight from what would, outside of the art context, have given us pain. Korsmeyer speaks of an “aesthetic conversion” whereby disgust and fear are transfigured into vehicles of absorption, and thus become aesthetically pleasurable. Since disgust and its magnetic force are of material interest to performance artists and their critics, Korsmeyer’s treatment of the paradox of aversion helps re-contextualize an important art historical issue.

Comment: Interesting to teach following classes on the paradox of horror, and perhaps even alongside (some of) Noel Carroll's writings on horror.

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Mcweeny, Jennifer, , . Liberating Anger, Embodying Knowledge: A Comparative Study of Maria Lugones and Zen Master Hakuin
2010, Hypatia 25 (2):295 - 315.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: This paper strengthens the theoretical ground of feminist analyses of anger by explaining how the angers of the oppressed are ways of knowing. Relying on insights created through the juxtaposition of Latina feminism and Zen Buddhism, I argue that these angers are special kinds of embodied perceptions that surface when there is a profound lack of fit between a particular bodily orientation and its framing world of sense. As openings to alternative sensibilities, these angers are transformative, liberatory, and deeply epistemological.

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Nussbaum, Martha, , . Emotions as Judgments of Value and Importance
2004, In Robert C. Solomon (ed.), Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions. Oxford University Press
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: Nussbaum argues for a cognitivist theory of emotions, whereby an emotion is similar to a judgement. An emotion has an intentional object which is being evaluated as e.g. bad for one. On her view, our emotional reactions to different situations are connected to the idea of eudaimonia, and emotions could be seen as a guide to a flourishing life. As such, Nussbaum aims to explain how certain emotions feel like they’re tearing us apart (e.g. grieving a dead family member), since they are literally bad for us. She thus departs from the Jamsian tradition whereby the psychological component of an emotion is emphasised (or emotions are sometimes reduced to physiological responses), and argues instead that the physiological response is not a necessary component of an emotion.

Comment: This paper offers a good introduction into the cognitivist theories of emotions and their basic claims. It would be good to pair with non-cognitivist theories such as William James's or Jesse Prinz's.

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Robinson, Jenefer, , . Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music, and Art
2005, Clarendon Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Jenefer Robinson takes the insights of modern scientific research on the emotions and uses them to illuminate questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Laying out a theory of emotion supported by the best evidence from current empirical work, she examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, her book will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone engaged with the arts and aesthetics.

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Robinson, Jenefer, , . The expression and arousal of emotion in music
1994, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1):13-22.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: This essay is about the relation between the expression and the arousal of emotion by music. I am assuming that music frequently expresses emotional qualities and qualities of human personality such as sadness, nobility, aggressiveness, tenderness, and serenity. I am also assuming that music frequently affects us emotionally: it evokes or arouses emotions in us. My question is whether there is any connection between these two facts, whether, in particular, music ever expresses emotion by virtue of arousing emotion. Of course, what it means to say that music expresses emotion is a contentious issue and I shall not be directly addressing it here, although what I say will have implications for any theory of musical expression. Nor will I be examining all the possible contexts in which music can be said to arouse emotion. My focus in this essay will be narrower. The question I shall try to answer is this: Are the grounds on which we attribute the expression of emotion to music ever to be identified with the arousal of that same emotion in listeners?

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Sherman, Nancy, , . Taking Responsibility for our Emotions
1999, Social Philosophy and Policy 16(2): 294.
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: We often hold people morally responsible for their emotions. We praise individuals for their compassion, think less of them for their ingratitude or hatred, reproach self-righteousness and unjust anger. In the cases I have in mind, the ascriptions of responsibility are not simply for offensive behaviors or actions which may accompany the emotions, but for the emotions themselves as motives or states of mind. We praise and blame people for what they feel and not just for how they act. In cases where people may subtly mask their hatred or ingratitude through more kindly actions, we still may find fault with the attitude we see leaking through the disguise.

Comment: Use this text as a recommended reading to compliment the earlier work on The Fabric of Character.

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