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of the event “in nature.” However, with fiction, there seems to be nothing “in nature” to
which we can compare the represented event.
Recently, however, there has been some psychological research that maintains that “ at
least in film “ there is an available contrast to the representation of the event, which con-
426 NOTES

trast makes talk about temporal distensions and delayed outcomes intelligible. And that
contrast is the time that the audience expects the event to take in order to resolve itself. So,
for example, suspense will be accentuated where the outcome of an event occurs after that
point in time when the audience expected it. Researchers have not claimed that such a
temporal prolongation can carry suspense by itself. Rather, they have only claimed a role
for time structures in exacerbating or undercutting suspense.
This research is certainly intriguing. However, I still have some reservations. Because so
many representations of events in film differ in duration from the same kind of events “in
real life” (e.g., wars and the decisive battles of world history are always shorter in the movies
than they are in “real life”), one wonders how audiences form expectations about how long
cinematic representations of events should take. Here, it has been suggested that we form
our expectations insofar as we develop norms about event lengths on the basis of the other
representations in the film. But how, then, do we undergo suspense with respect to the
opening scenes in a film?
I would feel more comfortable with this conjecture in general if more could be said
about the computational mechanism that putatively enables us to estimate what we feel is
the right amount of time, for example, for a suspenseful battle to take in a film about inter-
galactic revolution.Without a convincing specification of such a mechanism, I am not sure
I can make much sense of what people say about their expectations concerning when fic-
tional representations of events should (as a matter of prediction) end.
Also, we experience suspense not only while watching films, but in reading literature.
It seems to me that the experience of suspense, whether seen or read, is pretty much the
same. However, it is virtually unfathomable to me how people could form expectations
about on what page a scene should end. Indeed, on the basis of introspection, I find it dif-
ficult to observe such expectations in me. Consequently, if the analysis of suspense in liter-
ature and the visual arts should be roughly the same, and if it seems unlikely that readers
predict what they take to be the appropriate length of the exposition of events in literature,
then why should we suppose that a prediction of the length of the exposition of the event
is an essential ingredient in film suspense?
On the other hand, if these sorts of worries can be allayed, perhaps I shall have to grant
that time plays a more integral role in the generation of suspense than I have acknowledged
heretofore.
For interesting research on this topic that favors the conclusion that time is an integral
element of suspense, see Minet de Wied, The Role of Time Structures in the Experience of Film
Suspense and Duration:A study of the effects of anticipation time upon suspense and temporal varia-
tions on duration experience and suspense (doctoral dissertation for the Department of Theater
Studies of the University of Amsterdam, 1991).
18. For further arguments on behalf of this contention, see Patricia S. Greenspan, Emotions and
Reasons: An Inquiry into Emotional Justification (New York: Routledge, 1988), Chapter 2,
especially pp. 17“20.
19. See Roger Scruton, Art and Imagination: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind (London: Rout-
ledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), pp. 84“106.
20. I am indebted to Dong-Ryul Choo for pointing out some of the realistic commitments of my
theory of suspense. He develops his insights in his How to be an Aesthetic Realist (doctoral disser-
tation for the Department of Philosophy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994).
21. As I understand him, Kendall Walton makes a similar move in dissolving the paradox of sus-
pense. He draws a distinction between what one knows to be fictional and what is fictional
that one knows.Thus, if I have already seen the Guns of Navarone, then I know it to be fic-
tional that the artillery is destroyed; but as I watch the film a second time and play my game
of make-believe, I make-believe that I am uncertain about whether the guns will be
destroyed, or, to put it differently, it is fictional that I am uncertain about whether the guns
will be destroyed (in my occurrent game of make-believe).
NOTES 427

However, I think that my characterization of the mental state in terms of imagination
is superior to Walton™s discussion in terms of make-believe, because Walton™s games of
make-believe seem to require so much more activity than mere imagination. For in some
games of make-believe, Lauren is paralyzed by her fear for Jack in the Beanstalk, whereas
in others, it is fictional that she is hit by the gravity of the situation of Jack™s theft of the
goose that lays the golden egg, or, yet again, fictionally she is emotionally exhausted when
Jack defeats the giant. Playing games of make-believe in Walton™s examples seems to
involve readers in playing roles or acting. Playing games of make-believe involves more
than merely imagining p “ merely entertaining the proposition p unasserted.Thus, solving
the paradox of suspense in terms of imagination seems more economical than talking
about make-believe.
Although Walton sometimes speaks of make-believe as imagination, when he gives
examples of what he has in mind, it seems far more structurally complex than mere imag-
ining. Consequently, I maintain that my solution to the paradox of suspense is more eco-
nomical than Walton™s, because all I require is a notion of the imagination that we are
already willing to endorse outside the context of fiction, whereas Walton employs the more
complicated machinery of make-believe or fictional games, which even if called the imag-
ination is really an elaborate version thereof. For a discussion of the relevant examples, see
Mimesis as Make-Believe, especially p. 261.
Moreover,Walton™s overall argument for the efficacy of his concept of make-believe is
indirect. He advances his case by showing that his own approach solves more puzzles “ such
as the paradox of suspense “ than do contending approaches.Thus, if the solution offered
here by me is superior to Walton™s, then one of the major struts supporting Walton™s theory
is undermined. For pressure on some of the other struts, see No«l Carroll, The Philosophy of
Horror, especially Chapter 2.
22. See Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in her book Visual and Other
Pleasures (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), pp. 14“28.
23. Richard Gerrig, Experiencing Narrative Worlds, pp. 170“71. See also his articles: “Reexperi-
encing Fiction and Non-fiction,” and “Suspense in the Absence of Uncertainty.”
24. I would like to thank Elliott Sober, David Bordwell, Berent En§, Gregory Currie, and Sally
Banes for their assistance in the preparation of this essay.


A RT, NARRATIVE , M O R A L UN D E R S TA N D I N G
AND

I would like to thank Jerrold Levinson, Alex Neill, Berys Gaut, Sally Banes, Kendall Walton,
Stephen Davies, Denis Dutton, Ismay Barwell,William Tolhurst, David Novitz, Ivan Soll, John
Brown, John Deigh, David Michael Levin, Peter Lamarque, Gregory Currie, Jim Anderson, Jeff
Dean, Richard Kraut, Michael Williams, Meredith Williams, Robert Stecker, and David Bord-
well for their comments on earlier versions of this essay.They, of course, are not responsible for
the flaws in my argument; I am.
1. See Plato™s Republic, Books 2, 3, and 10.
2. The founding essay in this line of thought is “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses
(Notes Towards an Investigation),” by Louis Althusser in his book Lenin and Philosophy
(London: New Left Books, 1971). This approach has been extremely influential in the
humanities and notably still is in film studies. For a critical overview, see No«l Carroll, Mys-
tifying Movies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).
3. See Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension:Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (Boston:
Beacon Press, 1977).
4. See Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man (in a Series of Letters) (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1967).
5. See Jean-Paul Sartre, What Is Literature? (London: Methuen, 1983).
428 NOTES

Sometimes Martha Nussbaum sounds as though she may be a member of the utopian
school, at least with respect to novels. For example, she contends that “the genre itself [the
genre of the novel], on account of some general features of its structure, generally constructs
empathy and compassion in ways highly relevant to citizenship.”At points, Nussbaum qualifies
this in various ways “ by claiming that she is speaking only of the realist novel or by acknowl-
edging that not all novels are equally valuable for citizenship. But, at the same time, she is prone
to speak of the novel in general, or at least the realist novel, as a form generically conducive to
positive moral perception. But clearly to speak this way would require gerrymandering the
extension of the class of things to which the concept of the novel (or even realist novel) applies.
The novel, at least in the classificatory sense, is not always morally beneficent.There are evil
novels.When Nussbaum refers to the genre of the novel, she must be using that notion hon-
orifically, even if she writes as though she is using it descriptively. See Martha Nussbaum, Poetic
Justice:The Literary Imagination and Public Life (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995), 10.
6. Denis Diderot, in The Paradox of Acting, and Masks or Faces? (New York: Hill & Wang, 1957).
7. For a sympathetic account of this approach, see James Spellerberg,“Technology and Ideol-
ogy in the Cinema,” reprinted in Film Theory and Criticism, ed. Gerald Mast and Marshall
Cohen (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985), 761“75.
8. For an account of why autonomism maintains its grip on the philosophical imagination,
see No«l Carroll,“Beauty and the Genealogy of Art Theory,” Philosophical Forum, 22, no. 4
(1991): 307“34.
9. This sort of criticism is developed by R. W. Beardsmore in Art and Morality (London:
Macmillan Press, 1971).
10. Much of the filling-in that audiences do with respect to narratives involves mobilizing the
schemas they use in order to navigate everyday life. For example, when encountering a fic-
tional character, we use what some theorists call the person schema in order to fill out our
understanding of a character.Thus,Arthur Conan Doyle need not inform us that Sherlock
Holmes has only one liver rather than three because, unless informed otherwise, we will use
our standing person schema to form our conception of Sherlock Holmes. Our person
schema is a default assumption, and authors presume that we will use it to fill in their char-
acters, unless notified otherwise by the text. Moreover, insofar as we constantly deploy
everyday schemas, like the person schema, to understand narratives and fictional characters,
the doctrine of autonomists “ like the Russian Formalist Boris Tomashevsky “ that art,
including literature, and life are separate must be false. Most narratives are unintelligible
unless the audience accesses everyday person schemas, as well as other sorts of schemas, in
order to follow and comprehend narratives of human affairs.The penetration of life into art
is, therefore, a necessary condition of narrative literature. It is not a category error.
On person schemas, see Murray Smith, Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion and Cin-
ema (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), esp. chap. 1.
11. This characterization of melodrama is defended by Flo Leibowitz in “Apt Feelings, or Why
˜Women™s Films™ Aren™t Trivial,” in Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies, ed. David Bord-
well and No«l Carroll (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996), 219“29.
12. One can imagine an avant-garde novel designed to stifle or to derail the reader™s propensity
to respond to human events morally. However, experiments of this sort are likely to have as
part of their purpose reflexively calling attention to our typical expectations and, in that
respect, would involve drawing attention to our standard, moral response by forcefully
deactivating our moral powers and intuitions. But even this subversion of expectations
would have our typical moral response as a background, and, in fact, such experiments
might be undertaken, as they frequently are, for moral reasons “ such as disparaging and/or
dislodging the reader™s “sentimental bourgeois” tendency to read moralistically.
13. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Letter to M. D™Alembert on the Theater, in Politics and the Arts, ed.Allan
Bloom (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1973).
14. Ibid. 19.
NOTES 429

15. This view is defended at greater length in No«l Carroll, A Philosophy of Mass Art (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1998), chap. 5.
16. I would not wish to deny that there is a sense in which one might describe what the audi-
ence has learned by means of a general proposition. Perhaps, one might describe the reac-
tion to A Raisin in the Sun in terms of the audience™s possession of a new proposition “ that
African Americans deserve equal treatment. But I don™t think that the audience has simply
deduced this from other general propositions that it holds antecedently.That is something
it could have done by rote. Rather, audience members come to see that this perhaps already
known moral fact is deeply embedded in their structure of moral beliefs.That is, they come
to appreciate it in the sense that one appreciates a chess move.They not only acknowledge
that it follows from their beliefs in a formal sense, but apprehend its interrelation to other
beliefs in a way that also makes those other beliefs more vivid and compelling inasmuch as
their relevance is brought home powerfully with reference to a particular case.What goes
on might be better described as “re-gestalting.”
Phenomenologically, it is not like simply acquiring a new proposition such as “The
sum of 47,832 + 91,247 = 139,079.” Rather, it is a matter of an abstract proposition falling
into place, resonating in a larger system of beliefs. Merely describing what happens as the
acquisition of a new proposition, even if in some sense this is formally accurate, misses this
dimension of the transaction.
Of course, I would not want to deny that some narrative artworks convey general
moral propositions to audiences of which they were hitherto unaware. Perhaps from Native
Son readers learned that racism literally brings its own worst nightmares into existence.
However, it is my contention that this is not the standard case. In the standard case, the nar-
rative artwork functions more as a vehicle for promoting (or, as we shall see, degrading)
moral understanding by activating moral propositions already in our ken.
17. See Neil Cooper,“Understanding,” Aristotelian Society, suppl. vol. 68 (1984): 1“26.
18. On one view of the morally educative powers of narrative, it is supposed that audiences
derive interesting, novel moral propositions from texts and then apply these propositions
to the world. I agree that this is not an accurate, comprehensive account, because most of
the propositions derivable from narratives are truisms. But this is not the picture of the
educative powers of narrative that I advance. I agree that narratives generally play off the
moral beliefs and emotions that we already possess and that we already employ in our
intercourse with the world. However, in exercising these preexisting moral powers in
response to texts, the texts may provide opportunities for enhancing our existing moral
understanding. Thus, the direction of moral education with respect to narratives is not
from the text to the world by way of newly acquired moral propositions. Rather,
antecedent moral beliefs about the world may be expanded by commerce with texts that
engage our moral understanding. In stressing the world-to-text relation between moral
understanding and narratives rather than the text-to-world relation, my position con-
verges on one defended by Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen in their Truth, Fic-
tion and Literature (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994).
19. Charles Larmore, Patterns of Moral Complexity (Cambridge University Press, 1987), 21.
20. This view is close to one expounded by Alex Neill. However, in emphasizing fictional nar-
ratives as paradigm cases of the grammatical investigation of concepts, I think that Neill
makes the consumption of narratives too philosophical. Readers and viewers may recog-
nize the appropriateness of certain concepts to fictional behaviors and character traits, but
that sort of recognition can occur without insight into the formal criteria or grammar of
the concepts. Neill™s immensely stimulating paper,“Fiction and the Education of Emotion,”
was read at the 1987 meetings of the American Society of Aesthetics in Kansas City.
21. See Gilbert Ryle,“Jane Austen and the Moralists,” Oxford Review, no. 1 (1966): 8.
22. Sir Philip Sidney, “An Apology for Poetry,” in Criticism:The Major Texts, ed.Walter Jackson
Bate (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970), 82“106. Immanuel Kant,“Methodol-
430 NOTES

ogy of Pure Practical Reason,” in Critique of Practical Reason (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,
1956), 82“106. See also what Kant says about judgment in “On the Common Saying:˜This
May Be True in Theory, but It Does Not Apply in Practice,™” in Immanuel Kant, Political
Writings, ed. Hans Reiss (Cambridge University Press, 1995), 61.
23. Ryle,“Jane Austen and the Moralists,” 8.
24. On this view of soap operas, see No«l Carroll,“As the Dial Turns,” in Theorizing the Moving
Image (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 118“24.
25. See, for example, Martha Nussbaum,“Perceptive Equilibrium: Literary Theory and Ethical
Theory,” in Love™s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (New York: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 1990), 168“94.
26. This sort of value is stressed by numerous authors. It is a view that is important to acknowl-
edge. However, it can be overdone when theorists isolate the subversive power of narrative
as the morally significant power of art in general or of literature in particular. It is one moral
contribution that novels, plays, films, and so on can make to moral understanding. But it is
not the only one, since nonmorally subversive narratives can also make a contribution to
moral understanding. Overemphasizing the subversive power of certain narratives can sug-
gest a distinction between “literature” and other sorts of narratives, which distinction poses
as classificatory but which is ultimately honorific. In this light, such a view may be a sub-
species of utopianism. Some theorists who emphasize the morally subversive value of liter-
ature include Bernard Harrison, Inconvenient Fictions: Literature and the Limits of Theory (New
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991); R. W. Beardsmore, “Literary Examples and
Philosophical Confusion,” in Philosophy and Literature, ed. A. Phillips Griffiths (Cambridge
University Press, 1984), 59“74; John Passmore, Serious Art (LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1991);
Richard Eldridge, “How Is the Kantian Moral Criticism of Literature Possible?” in Litera-
ture and Ethics, ed. Bjorn Tysdahl et al. (Oslo: Norweign Academy of Science and Letters,
1992), 85“98.
27. Frank Palmer, Literature and Moral Understanding: A Philosophical Essay on Ethics, Aesthetics,
Education and Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
28. The reservations I have raised concerning Palmer™s view may also be relevant to Gregory
Currie™s account of the moral psychology of fiction, given the emphasis that Currie places
on our putative simulation of the situations of characters. I worry about whether simula-
tion isn™t identification all over again. Rather than simulating or identifying with characters,
I think that our relation to characters is typically that of onlookers or outside observers.
Undoubtedly, how the character feels from the inside is relevant to our responses to her, but
when she feels sorrow over her misfortune, we typically pity her for the sorrows she palpa-
bly feels, and this is not something that she does.The object of our emotion is different from
the object of her emotion. Moreover, I am also not convinced that simulations à la Currie
play much of a role in our moral deliberations, since we are aware that the pertinent sce-
narios are made up. For exposition of the simulation theory, see Gregory Currie, “The
Moral Psychology of Fiction,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 73, no. 2 (1995): 250“59. A
simulation theory is also advanced by Susan Feagin in Reading with Feeling:The Aesthetics of
Appreciation (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996). For further criticism of the sim-
ulation view, see Carroll, A Philosophy of Mass Art, chap. 5.
29. The caveat “primarily” is meant to allow for the possibility that, in exceptional cases, the kind
of reorienting, reorganizing, and re-gestalting that I have been talking about may yield some
new nontrivial proposition or concept.This is not, I contend, the general course of events, but
I would not wish to argue that it could never happen. However, it is rare enough that it cannot

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