Fiction and Imagining Across Different Experiential Perspectives

27 June 2018; 16:00-18:00

Senate House – Room 246


Can one have access to experiential perspectives vastly different from one’s own?  Can one know what it’s like to live a life very different from one’s own?  These questions are particularly pressing in contemporary society as we try to bridge racial, ethnic, and gender divides. Yet in both popular culture and in philosophical contexts, we see considerable pessimism in this regard, i.e., it is often thought that the gulf between vastly different experiential perspectives cannot be bridged.  In this paper, I explore the case for this pessimism, and I also explore whether and how reliance on imagination might lead us to a more optimistic conclusion.  As I suggest, one key to the optimistic case involves thinking about the insights we can gain from engagement with fiction.