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20 MARCH 2012

The importance of metaphor and narrative to our habits of mind

"Fiction – with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions – offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people's thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real–life social encounters."

(Annie Murphy Paul, 17 March 2012, NYTimes.com)

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TAGS

affirming experience • booksbrainbrain networksbrain science • cause and effect • cognitive mapcomplex problemscomputer simulationdepictiondescription • emotional life • empathetic individuals • empathyexperiencefictional charactersfrustration • great literature • habits of mind • hidden motives • imaginative metaphors • intentions • interacting instances • languageliterature • longings • mental image • mental state • metaphornarrativenarrative fiction • navigate interactions • neurosciencenovelsoff the page • people and their actions • psychologyreaders • reading novels • real thingreal-life • redolent details • rich replica • simulating reality • simulationsmell • social encounters • social interactionsocial interactionssocial lifesocial worldtexture • the complexities of social life • theory of mindthoughts and feelingswatching television • your brain

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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