When Fiction is Truer than Non-Fiction

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

We could leave it there and be done, or we could parse that out a bit more.

Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris and Brett Weinstein discussed the idea of a metaphorical truth. They defined it as a notion that is literally false but conveys benefits to the person who acts as if it were true. Their example is treat every gun like a loaded gun. Every gun is not in fact loaded, but those who act as if they are are less likely to have a problem. Jordan has also said he acts as if God exists. Notice he treats the notion of God just like any other metaphorical truth. Whether God is literally true is less important than that— at least according to Jordan— those who act as if it is true seem to receive certain life benefits.

Deeper Truths

So myths, stories from religious traditions, and even modern movies like The Lion King, use the story as a foil to convey a deeper truth that non-fiction would have a harder time getting at.