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The Aesthetic MindPhilosophy and Psychology$
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Elisabeth Schellekens and Peter Goldie

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691517

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691517.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 08 May 2021

Mirroring Fictional Others

Mirroring Fictional Others

(p.313) 18 Mirroring Fictional Others
The Aesthetic Mind

Zanna Clay

Marco Iacoboni

Oxford University Press

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

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