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LAF: Causes and Quasi-Miracles in Narrative Understanding

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 | 16.00 – 18.00
Senate House, Room 243

Emily Caddick Bourne (Cambridge)
Causes and Quasi-Miracles in Narrative Understanding

Narratives provide understanding of the events they represent, organising them, as David Velleman puts it, into an intelligible whole. What kind of understanding is this, and how do narratives furnish it? We take as a starting point some cases which have proved problematic for accounts which attempt to capture narrative understanding in terms of causal explanation, including, for example, cases of ‘poetic justice’ where fictional characters get their due apparently by happy accident. This leads us to propose a new account of narrative understanding, based on a development of David Lewis’s notion of a ‘quasi-miracle’. We use this to make suggestions about what makes for a remarkable coincidence, the place of normativity in narrative, and how incongruity can contribute to narrative understanding.

The talk will be free and open to all. For more information please visit our website

The London Aesthetics Forum (Institute of Philosophy) is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics.
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