Strange Concepts and the Stories they Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative (review)


In Strange Concepts and The Stories they Make Possible: Cognition, Culture, Narrative, Lisa Zunshine widens her scope from an erstwhile singular focus on Theory of Mind (inferring interior states from exterior expression and gesture) in fiction, turning her sights toward a branch of psychology aimed at the study of the early cognitive development of humans. Here she explores our distinctive mental capacity to ascribe a function to objects (a chair is to sit, etc.) and an essence to living creatures (the posited unchanging, ungraspable spirit or soul, for example). Zunshine’s aim: to throw light on how authors and artists confer strange configurations upon such concepts as function and essence in their making of novels, films, television shows, and art.

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