Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 5 (2007)
The theme of this paper is the idea that imaginative literature can disclose our tacit knowledge of emotions. It this does with the aid of such devices as metaphors and similes. The kind of insight we get thanks to the disclosive power of literature is akin to that which Kjell S. Johannessen has called 'knowledge by familiarity,' Frank Palmer 'knowing what' and Charles Taylor implicitly 'the result of articulation.' I defend the theory that at least some important emotions cannot be understood (or even exist) outside of behavioral contexts and that this understanding is mainly tacit. I try to show that certain works of literature can disclose this kind of tacit knowledge, not least because of the productive distance to this knowledge imaginative literature gives. Further, I use several examples from imaginative literature to show how poetical metaphors, poetical similes, the Verfremdung and other poetical devices disclose tacit knowledge of emotions.