Emotions not possible to direct at fiction: Fear for oneself, jealousy

Possible emotions directed at fiction: Fear for or with others, envy, pity 

Fear of X requires you believe X is dangerous to you (and Voldemorte is not)

Jealousy requires you see someone as your rival (and Harry Potter is not)

Differences between emotions directed at fiction and reality?

Yes, typically, though not always pity aimed at fictional events is shorter/less intense

Not always: Might feel more sorry for Harry Potter than Afghan refugees

Objections to feeling pity toward fictional characters



Not pity, as no actual suffering is taking place

Pity does not require belief in actual suffering

Imaginative placement in shoes of another is enough

Not pity, as take pleasure in their suffering

Sometimes we don’t enjoy it

Pleasure aimed at something else, not the suffering


Not pity, because we don’t desire to help them

Pitying does not require a desire to help when we know such help is impossible

Pity people of past or trapped in mine

Not pity, as it requires we want things to happen differently, but we don’t want the story to change

Conflicting desires (suffering not occur & story not change) explained by: (1) Desires aimed at different things and don’t conflict (2) We don’t always desire things that our other desires require (iced buns) (this seems a bit irrational); (3) We often have conflicting desires about real like too

(1) Want Dumbledore not to die, but also that the movie is faithful to book

(2) We desire to lose weight and to do so must stop eating iced buns, but we still desire to eat them

(3) Want Widow to no longer suffer but believe she needs to recover from her loss