“It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction,” Mr. Flesch said, “but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”

From The NY Times “The Next Big Thing: Literary Scholars Turn to Science” by Patricia Cohen, published March 31, 2010:

Humans can comfortably keep track of three different mental states at a time, Ms. Zunshine said. For example, the proposition “Peter said that Paul believed that Mary liked chocolate” is not too hard to follow. Add a fourth level, though, and it’s suddenly more difficult. And experiments have shown that at the fifth level understanding drops off by 60 percent, Ms. Zunshine said. Modernist authors like Virginia Woolf are especially challenging because she asks readers to keep up with six different mental states, or what the scholars call levels of intentionality.

Interesting article though we question why the Arts has to argue its purposes for scientific or economic reasons. What makes art Art is its intrinsic value in and of itself.

Read entire article here

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