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Philosophy, Fiction, and Videogames

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For the past thirty years, there has been a lively sub-branch of philosophy concerned with fiction. This has generally addressed all the different media: the written word, paintings, films, and (more recently) videogames. What are the issues? What are the differences between interacting with fictions and non-fictions? What sense can be made of having (real) emotions to fictional characters? How can we fit the concepts together so that it makes sense to say things such as ‘I desire to shoot zombies’? What is it to shoot zombies? I shall argue that there are two different components to any attempt to solve these problems. The first is to give an account of what it is to engage with a representation (any representation). The second is to say what is distinctive about engaging with a fictional representation. It turns out that once we have done the first no problems remain for the second. Hence, there is no need for it; no need for a philosophy of fiction. The twist in the tail is that the philosophy of fiction was spawned, in its modern form, by the publication of Kendall Walton’s Mimesis as Make-Believe. This genesis should never have occurred, because, I shall argue, the view I outline is what Walton meant all along.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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