While it is often assumed that fictions must be informative or morally improving in order to be of any real benefit to us, certain texts defy this assumption by functioning as training grounds for the capacities: in engaging with them, we stand to become not more knowledgeable or more virtuous but more skilled, whether at rational thinking, at maintaining necessary illusions, at achieving tranquility of mind, or even at religious faith. Instead of offering us propositional knowledge, these texts yield know-how; rather than attempting to instruct by means of their content, they hone capacities by means of their form; far from seducing with the promise of instantaneous transformation, they recognize, with Aristotle, that change is a matter of sustained and patient practice.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.