Why the Epistemic Value of Fictional Literature Does Not Depend Crucially on Its Fictionality

Fusion of Horizons and the Importance of Distance

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien

Mitchell Greenʼs conception of the thesis of Literary Cognitivism states that literary fiction can be a source of knowledge that depends crucially on its being fictional. By a modal argument the authors show that the criterion of fictionality cannot be crucial to the epistemic value of literary fiction. Rather, it lays in a certain kind of distance, e.g. a temporal, cultural, or interpersonal one. This will be motivated by drawing parallels to Gadamerʼs hermeneutics, especially his conception of fusion of horizons. In doing so, we agree with Green’s characterisation of knowledge that can be gained from engaging with literary fiction, but present a different approach to the source of this knowledge. At the same time, this approach enables us to extend the epistemic value of literary fiction both quantitatively and qualitatively.

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