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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the idea that literature can be a source of insight into and evidence regarding emotion, thereby contributing positively to cognitive research on emotion. The chapter begins by discussing what literature adds to more standard sources of discovery and justification, considering also its limitations due, for example, to ideology. The chapter then takes up Semir Zeki’s views on art, idealization, and the necessary miseries that accompany the establishment of ideals. From here, it turns to Patrick Hogan’s account of how literature can contribute to our understanding of emotion by reference to general processes, such as simulation; recurring patterns, such as genre; and the depiction of emotion episodes in particular works. The penultimate section outlines the arguments of Martha Nussbaum and Keith Oatley that literature may contribute to the training of emotional sensibility. The chapter concludes by illustrating these approaches through an interpretation of a poem by Mīrābāī.

Keywords: emotion, literature, Semir Zeki, idealization, simulation, genre, Martha Nussbaum, Keith Oatley, training of sensibility, Mīrābāī.

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