Indexed Mental Files and Names in Fiction

Enrico Grosso 1
  • 1 University of Genova Enrico Grosso FINO Consortium—University of Genova Via Balbi, Genova, Italy


In this paper, I argue that the theory of mental files can provide a unitary cognitive account of how names and singular terms work in fiction. I will suggest that the crucial notion we need is not the one of regular file, i.e., a file whose function is to accumulate information that we take to be about a single object of the outside world, but the notion of indexed file, i.e., a file that stands, in the subject’s mind, for another subject’s file about an object. When we read a novel containing the name of an individual, we acquire (fictional) information about that individual and we store those pieces of information into an indexed file. If the name also refers to a real individual outside the context of fiction, the indexed file is linked with the pre-existing regular file that we have about such individual. Otherwise, the indexed file is linked to a regular file referring to an abstract object, namely the fictional entity itself.

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