This essay critiques two of the main theories in the philosophy of emotions, the pure-cognitive theory and the neo-Jamesian theory, through the paradox of fiction. After explaining the different kinds of emotions we experience when engaging with fictions, I argue that a middle-ground, hybrid theory more adequately accounts for current scientific research and the paradox of fiction than either of the previous two. I propose a “HOT” theory of emotions (higher-order thought) specifically to explain complex emotions about fictions.

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