Abstract

Can art encourage social progress without invoking empathy? Bertolt Brecht thought so. He built convention violations into his plays in order to alienate audiences from their empathetic responses. He did this in order to encourage reasoned responses among his audience members. In so doing, Brecht ran the risk that spectators would imaginatively resist the play and focus exclusively on the convention violations. This kind of imaginative resistance does in fact undermine Brecht's purpose of achieving social progress. Contrary to Brecht's assessment, empathy is cognitive in nature and is a vehicle by which Brecht could have effectively realized his goal.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 131-144
Launched on MUSE
2010-04-10
Open Access
No
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