Chapter

Mirroring Fictional Others

Zanna Clay and Marco Iacoboni

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691517.003.0019
Mirroring Fictional Others

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The way in which we connect with purely fictional characters can be a deep and enduring experience. Here we take recent evidence from neuroscience to explore the possible mechanisms underlying our ability to empathise with fictional others. Specifically, a network of complex neural mechanisms, known as the mirror neuron system, has been shown to underlie our ability for empathy. Here we argue that the same mirror neuron mechanisms also enables our empathic relationship towards fictional characters. First, we discuss recent empirical evidence from the mirror neuron literature that support our claim. Next, we take several salient excerpts from literary novels to explore the relationship between empathy with fictional characters and neural mirroring mechanisms.

Keywords: neuroscience; ability to empathise; mirror neuron system; fictional characters

Chapter.  7837 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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