08 October 2012

The Heroic Imagination

I inquired in an earlier post whether thinking about the character of Beowulf could strengthen a reader's own character. I came down on the side that it could. What brought that matter back to mind was discovering Dr. Phil Zimbardo, who has run experiments on how easily people can be induced by a situation into behaving brutally. He is now interested in how they can be induced, when the situation calls for it, to behave heroically. He says that the way is to rehearse heroic actions in one's mind. When the moment comes, the appropriate behaviour will then come with it.

If we want heroes, as I believe we do, then
it is vital for every society to have its institutions teach heroism, building into such teachings the importance of mentally rehearsing taking heroic action—thus to be ready to act when called to service for a moral cause or just to help a victim in distress.
He calls this mental rehearsing, "the heroic imagination." It needs examples of heroic behaviour, such as Beowulf, to feed on.

No comments:

Post a Comment