Make Believe

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Gregory Currie

Knowledge and make-believe

Fictional stories don't claim that their characters exists or that their situations are true; these things are, as we say, make-believe. Still, many hold that we may learn things from fictions: moral or psychological truths perhaps. On some views we learn in a different sense: we learn to be more sensitive or discriminating or understanding. Perhaps we learn from fiction what certain kinds of experiences are like, even though we have not had those experiences. What mechanisms govern this kind of learning? How might we find evidence that learning of any of these kinds takes place? What are the limits and barriers to these kinds of learning from make-believe?


Gregory Currie is professor of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham, Great Britian. He was educated at the London School of Economics and The University of California, Berkeley. Before joining the Nottingham department he was Professor of Philosophy and Head of the School of Arts at Flinders University, Adelaide. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and a Past President of the Australasian Association of Philosophy. His work in recent years has mostly been concerned with aesthetics, cognition and the relations between the two. Some of Currie’s publications include a book on the imagination, Recreative Minds, written with Ian Ravenscroft (2002), a collection of essays, Arts and Minds from 2004, and his most recent monograph, Narratives and Narrators from 2010 (all with Oxford University Press). He is an editor of Mind and Language, an associate editor of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and an editorial consultant for the British Journal of Aesthetics.