The Real, the Fictional, and the Fake

11 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2013

See all articles by Susan Haack

Susan Haack

University of Miami - School of Law; University of Miami - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: September 6, 2013


Reality is rich, various, and multi-layered. The earth we humans inhabit is only one small corner of a vast universe, itself perhaps only one of many “multi-verses.” And in this small corner, natural reality is overlaid by a dense mesh of human creations, physical and mental, intellectual and imaginative. It isn’t easy, however, to articulate the ontological status of those imaginative creations: there really are fictional characters, etc., one wants to say, but those fictional characters, etc. aren’t real. But the air of paradox can be dispelled by noticing that in the metaphysical use in which it contrasts with “imaginary,” just as in the more humdrum use in which it contrasts with “fake, bogus,” the word “real” is short for “real X.” There are real fictional characters; but they aren’t real people, they’re mental constructions.

Real: actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact, objective, genuine, rightly so called, natural, sincere, not purely nominal or supposed or pretended or artificial of hypocritical or affected. (Oxford English Dictionary).

Keywords: Real, fictional, fake, imagination, the imaginary, fictional characters, Innocent Realism

Suggested Citation

Haack, Susan, The Real, the Fictional, and the Fake (September 6, 2013). SpazioFilosofico, p. 209, 2013; University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-12. Available at SSRN:

Susan Haack (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305-284-3541 (Phone)
305-284-6506 (Fax)

University of Miami - Department of Philosophy ( email )

P.O. Box 248054
Coral Gables, FL 33124-4670
United States

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