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Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights$
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Diana Tietjens Meyers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199930388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199930388.001.0001

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Emotional Understanding and Victims’ Stories

Emotional Understanding and Victims’ Stories

Chapter:
(p.102) Chapter 3 Emotional Understanding and Victims’ Stories
Source:
Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights
Author(s):

Diana Tietjens Meyers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199930388.003.0004

J. David Velleman’s account of emotion as the glue that unifies stories and endows them with meaning is rejected in favor of Jenefer Robinson’s account of the role of responding emotionally to narratives in imparting moral understanding. Robinson’s view is used to expose some pitfalls of emotionally responding to a former child soldier’s story—Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone—and to explain how that text counteracts emotionally overwrought misinterpretation. Two episodes in Beah’s story are apt to provoke imaginative resistance, but a careful reading of his text defuses these responses. Beah’s morally open-ended text is defended as superior to the moral didacticism of an episode in Rousseau’s Emile.

Keywords:   J. David Velleman, Jenefer Robinson, Ishmael Beah, child soldier, A Long Way Gone, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, emotion, moral understanding, imaginative resistance

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