Volume 1, 2008
Aesthetics and Philosophy of Arts
Margrethe Bruun Vaage
Noël Carroll and the Role of Empathy in Fiction Film Engagement
Carroll denies that the spectator of fiction film commonly has empathy with the characters. He argues that the spectator typically emotes to the events in the film from his position as observer, and that this context gives asymmetrical reactions in spectator and character. According to Carroll, empathy is unlikely to occur. The
problem with this argument is that if the differences between spectator and character that Carroll points to exclude empathy, it would also exclude empathy in real life. Furthermore, Carroll merely shows that the spectator cannot only feel as the character feels. This does however not entail that empathy cannot be one part of the spectator’s response as observer. This paper thus argues that Carroll fails to show that empathy is an unlikely spectator response.