About this topic
Summary Perception provides us with access to the actual world -- to things that actually exist and to states of affairs that actually occur.  In contrast, imagination provides us with access to merely possible worlds -- to things that do not actually exist and to states of affairs that do not actually occur.  Imagination is philosophically important for its role in many different domains of inquiry.  In aesthetics, imagination is invoked to explain our engagement with fiction, music, and the visual arts.  In modal epistemology, imagination is invoked to explain how we can justify our modal beliefs.  In philosophy of mind, imagination is invoked to explain our capacity for mindreading.  More generally, imagination is thought to connect with creativity and thus to play a role not only in artistic creation but also in scientific and mathematical discovery. 
Key works Kind 2016 contains over 30 articles covering topics related to both historical and contemporary treatment of imagination.  White 1990 provides a survey of historical treatments of the imagination.  Walton 1990 and Currie 1990 are the seminal texts for the use of imagination in our engagement with fiction.  Several useful recent collections include Nichols 2006 (focusing on pretense, possibility, and fiction), Gendler & Hawthorne 2002 (focusing on modal epistemology), and Kieran & Lopes 2003 (focusing on literature and the visual arts).  Block 1981 is a slightly older collection that focuses on mental imagery.  For a discussion of the nature of imagination, see Kind 2001.
Introductions Useful encyclopedia articles include Gendler 2011 and Kind 2005.
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1 — 50 / 2017
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  1. Gaston Bachelard’s Philosophy of Imagination: An Introduction.Edward K. Kaplan - 2012 - Scientia et Fides 8:157–190.
    Bachelard’s works on imagination have been used primarily by literary critics interested in the archetypal imagery of writers. His treatment of the imagination of matter has led to a method of classifying poets according to their favorite substances, based on a view of Bachelard as a “psychoanalyst” of the elements. But the phenomena of imagination, the images themselves, are not his fundamental concern. Bachelard’s physics and chemistry of imagination also imply a metaphysics. Definition of the contents and function of imagination (...)
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  2. Reinstating ‘the Value of Solitude’: Gaston Bachelard on the Imagination and Moral Life.Sunjoo Lee - 2022 - The European Legacy 28 (1):65-84.
    The aim of this article is to show that what Gaston Bachelard called the “psychology of the imagination” often doubles as moral psychology. In Water and Dreams, for example, Bachelard presents “water’s morality,” which is a morality attained by an imagination of water’s purity. Similarly, in Air and Dreams, he explores the aerial imagination that forms the moral thought in Thus Spoke Zarathustra and calls the will to dynamism in Nietzschean philosophy “an experimental physics of moral life.” In Earth and (...)
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  3. Image, Image-Making, and Imagination.Dominic Gregory - 2020 - In Ananta Ch Sukla & Keith Moser (eds.), Imagination and Art: Explorations in Contemporary Theory. pp. 535-558.
    [Pre-peer review draft available to download.] Our imaginative capacities shape the making of images, while the making of images has the ability to shape our imaginative capacities. What are the connections between vision and mental visual images that allow for this traffic between the contents of our minds and external images? And how are image-makers able to exploit the distinctive powers of imagery, to extend the modes of representation that are available to us, and hence also to extend the resources (...)
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  4. The Philosophy of Fiction: Imagination and Cognition.Patrik Engisch & Julia Langkau (eds.) - 2022 - Routledge.
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  5. Memory as the Route to Imagination:
 A Simulationist Account of Affective Forecasting.Andrea Blomkvist - 2017 - Track Changes 10.
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  6. The Оrigin of the Modern State: Imagination, Violence, Institutions.Oleg Bilyi & Vitalii Liakh - 2021 - Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac 1 (2):3-29.
    The main idea of the article is to define the role of imagination, violence and institutions in the formation of the modern state as well as to show that the important dimension of the state building is the image of the self, creative capacity of the individual to symbolic self-made activity and self-made reproduction. The symbolic world of the imaginary state is the product of the communities united symbolically, contingency and simultaneously the part of the social orders. The Nort conception (...)
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  7. Gothic Antiquity: History, Romance, and the Architectural Imagination, 1760–1840.Yael Shapira - 2021 - Common Knowledge 27 (3):488-489.
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  8. The Nostalgic Imagination: History in English Criticism.Nicholas Halmi - 2021 - Common Knowledge 27 (2):318-320.
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  9. Beyond Stewardship: Reordering the Economic Imagination of Catholic Health Care.M. Therese Lysaught - 2020 - Christian Bioethics 26 (1):31-55.
    The principle of stewardship has come to play a significant role in the consciousness of Catholic health care. This is a recent development correlative with changes in the economic configurations of Catholic health care in the latter two decades of the twentieth century, as well as with the striking ascendance of the principle within US Catholic culture during the same period. Yet while the concept of stewardship seems to be an unobjectionable given central to Catholic practice, I argue that in (...)
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  10. Ficino and Fantasy: Imagination in Renaissance Art and Theory From Botticelli to Michelangelo.Marieke van den Doel - 2021 - Boston: Brill.
    Did the Florentine philosopher Marsilio Ficino influence the art of his time? Art historians have been fiercely debating this question for decades. This book starts with Ficino's views on the imagination as a faculty of the soul, and shows how these ideas were part of a long philosophical tradition and inspired fresh insights. This approach, combined with little known historical material, offers a new understanding of whether, how and why Ficino's Platonic conceptions of the imagination may have been received in (...)
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  11. Imagination in Islamic Mystical Philosophy: The Eschatological and Ontological Case.Binyamin Abrahamov - 2022 - In Christian Lange & Alexander D. Knysh (eds.), Sufi Cosmology. Brill.
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  12. Conversations on empathy: interdisciplinary perspectives on imagination and radical othering.Francesca Mezzenzana & Daniela Peluso (eds.) - 2022 - New York, NY: Routledge.
    In the aftermath of a global pandemic, amidst new and ongoing wars, genocide, inequality, and staggering ecological collapse, some in the public and political arena have argued that we are in desperate need of greater empathy - be this with our neighbours, refugees, war victims, the vulnerable or disappearing animal and plant species. This interdisciplinary volume asks the crucial questions: How does a better understanding of empathy contribute, if at all, to our understanding of others? How is it implicated in (...)
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  13. Sensing the call of other animals : carnal hermeneutics and the ethico-moral imagination.Melissa Fitzpatrick - 2023 - In Brian Treanor & James Taylor (eds.), Anacarnation and Returning to the Lived Body with Richard Kearney. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
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  14. Philosophical Perspectives on Memory and Imagination.Anja Berninger & Íngrid Vendrell Ferran (eds.) - 2022 - New York, NY: Routledge.
    This book explores the structure and function of memory and imagination, as well as the relation and interaction between the two states. It is the first book to offer an integrative approach to these two emerging areas of philosophical research. The essays in this volume deal with a variety of forms of imagining and remembering. The contributors come from a range of methodological backgrounds: empirically minded philosophers, analytic philosophers engaging mainly in conceptual analysis, and philosophers informed by the phenomenological tradition. (...)
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  15. Staging the self by performing the other: Global fantasies and the migration of the projective imagination 1.Luiz E. Soares - 1998 - Cultural Values 2 (2-3):288-304.
    . Staging the self by performing the other: Global fantasies and the migration of the projective imagination. Cultural Values: Vol. 2, No. 2-3, pp. 288-304.
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  16. Le figural entre imagination et perception.De Luca Valeria - 2015 - Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy 3 (1):199-220.
    Whereas in semiotics we have tried to account for the activity of the figurative dimension of meaning as a coherent text deformation, in other knowledge fields, the study of figures of speech and of images, have led to an original design of “figural” as a full dimension of cultures. Whether it was a matter of the relationship between saying and seeing or of the nature and power of images, the “figural” has been designed as a device able to move the (...)
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  17. The limits of moral imagination.Stephen John - 2022 - Metascience 31 (3):369-372.
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  18. Mental Imagery and the Epistemology of Testimony.Daniel Munro - 2022 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (4):428-449.
    Mental imagery often occurs during testimonial belief transmission: a testifier often episodically remembers or imagines a scene while describing it, while a listener often imagines that scene as it’s described to her. I argue that getting clear on imagery’s psychological roles in testimonial belief transmission has implications for some fundamental issues in the epistemology of testimony. I first appeal to imagery cases to argue against a widespread “internalist” approach to the epistemology of testimony. I then appeal to the same sort (...)
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  19. Onstage Emotion as Imagination.Yuchen Guo - 2022 - The Journal of Aesthetic Education 56 (4):29-46.
    Abstract:Although many actors report experiencing genuine emotions befitting a specific character’s circumstances, the actors themselves are neither their characters nor in their characters’ circumstances. Moreover, it seems that if our circumstances do not afford certain emotions, we will not experience these emotions. Thus, actors experience “a paradox of onstage emotion.” This article aims to provide a solution to this paradox. I argue that actors’ onstage emotions are repeatable, controllable, scripted, and impersonal; however, everyday genuine emotions are neither repeatable nor controllable (...)
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  20. “A Necessary Shadow of Being”: Irony, Imagination, and Personal Identity.Przemysław Bursztyka & Randall E. Auxier - 2022 - Studia Philosophica Wratislaviensia 17 (2):21-45.
    This is the second of the essays on the existential-ontological ground of otherness, in which we see this ground as essentially entwined with our personhood and our personal identities. We analyze irony as both a “mechanism” of constituting these very identities and as an act revealing their self-altering nature. Irony in our view — informed by Kierkegaard, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis — is a subtle existential strategy by means of which subjectivity (not “the subject”) not only asserts itself, but also, and (...)
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  21. Sharpening the tools of imagination.Michael T. Stuart - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-22.
    Thought experiments, models, diagrams, computer simulations, and metaphors can all be understood as tools of the imagination. While these devices are usually treated separately in philosophy of science, this paper provides a unified account according to which tools of the imagination are epistemically good insofar as they improve scientific imaginings. Improving scientific imagining is characterized in terms of epistemological consequences: more improvement means better consequences. A distinction is then drawn between tools being good in retrospect, at the time, and in (...)
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  22. The Ethics of Richard Rorty: Moral Communities, Self-Transformation, and Imagination.Susan Dieleman, David E. McClean & Paul Showler (eds.) - 2022 - Routledge.
    This book contains diverse and critical reflections on Richard Rorty’s contributions to ethics, an aspect of his thought that has been relatively neglected. Together, they demonstrate that Rorty offers a compelling and coherent ethical vision. The book's chapters, grouped thematically, explore Rorty’s emphasis on the importance of moral imagination, social relations, language, and literature as instrumental for ethical self-transformation, as well as for strengthening what Rorty called "social hope," which entails constant work toward a more democratic, inclusive, and cosmopolitan society (...)
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  23. Rethinking Phenomenal Intentionality.Christopher Stratman - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    My dissertation puts forward a critique of the phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT). According to standard accounts of PIT, all genuine intentionality is either identical to or partly grounded in phenomenal consciousness. I argue that it is a conceptually significant mistake to construe conscious experiences in terms of token mental states that instantiate phenomenal properties. This mistake is predicated on ignoring an important difference in the temporal character—what I call the “temporal shape”—between states and properties as opposed to conscious experiences. States (...)
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  24. How to keep up good appearances: Desire, imagination, and the good.Uku Tooming - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):1147-1160.
    It is not uncommon to think that having a desire involves taking its object to be good in some sense. This idea has been developed in two directions: either toward a view that understands the positive evaluation in terms of a judgment or belief or a view according to which the relevant evaluation is perception-like. In this article, I defend a novel proposal that takes the positive evaluation of the object of desire to be a kind of imagining.
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  25. Place in time : GIS and the spatial imagination in teaching history.Detlev Mares & Wolfgang Moschek - 2013 - In Alexander von Lünen & Charles Travis (eds.), History and GIS: epistemologies, considerations and reflections. Springer.
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  26. And its Sense for "the Impossible" in the Chiasm of Memory and Imagination (Between past's Future and future's Past).Philipp Stoellger - 2013 - In Marius Timmann Mjaaland, Ulrik Houlind Rasmussen & Philipp Stoellger (eds.), Impossible time: past and future in the philosophy of religion. Mohr Siebeck.
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  27. William James's hidden religious imagination: a universe of relations.Jeremy R. Carrette - 2013 - New York, NY: Routledge.
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  28. Understanding Imagination: The Reason of Images.Dennis L. Sepper - 2013 - Dordrecht: Imprint: Springer.
    This book discusses that imagination is as important to thinking and reasoning as it is to making and acting. By reexamining our philosophical and psychological heritage, it traces a framework, a conceptual topology, that underlies the most disparate theories: a framework that presents imagination as founded in the placement of appearances. It shows how this framework was progressively developed by thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant, and how it is reflected in more recent developments in theorists as different as (...)
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  29. The poetic imagination in Heidegger and Schelling.Christopher S. Yates - 2013 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
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  30. Infusing perception with imagination.Derek H. Brown - 2018 - In F. And Dorsch Macpherson (ed.), Perceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory. pp. 133-160.
    I defend the thesis that most or all perceptual experiences are infused with imaginative contributions. While the idea is not new, it has few supporters. I begin by developing a framework for the underlying debate. Central to that framework is the claim that a perceptual experience is infused with imagination if and only if there are self-generated contributions to that experience that have ampliative effect on its phenomenal and directed elements. Self-generated ingredients to experience are produced by the subject as (...)
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  31. The Place of Imagination in Moral Education based on Kant’s View.Milad Jamili, Khosrow Bagheri Noaparast & Narges Sadat Sajjadieh - 2022 - Philosophical Investigations 16 (39):1-26.
    In his writings and theories, Kant refers to three imaginations, each of which has a clear definition and a recognized purpose, and which can be considered in their ability for general synthesis. three types of imagination are productive, reproductive, and creative.Based on the method of transcendental analysis, it is shown that there are necessary conditions in the relationship between imagination and ethics. In the first transcendental analysis, it was found that the necessary condition for the moral action of goodwill and (...)
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  32. Plenarvorträge. Von der Armut unserer Freiheit : Grösse und Grenzen der Hegelischen Sittlichkeitslehre / Axel Honneth. Die Imagination der Freiheit : Goethe als Zeitgenosse Hegels / David E. Wellbery. Natur und Freiheit : Hegelsche Perspektiven auf gegenwärtige Fragen. [REVIEW]Ludwig Siep - 2013 - In Gunnar Hindrichs Axel Honneth (ed.), Freiheit: Stuttgarter Hegel-Kongress 2011. Vittorio Klostermann.
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  33. Paul Ricœur, l'imagination vive: une genèse de la philosophie ricoeurienne de l'imagination.Jean-Luc Amalric - 2013 - Paris: Hermann.
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  34. L'imagination fantastique: images, ombres et miroirs à la Renaissance.Saverio Ansaldi - 2013 - Paris: Les Belles lettres.
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  35. Knights of the industrial revolution: art and social change in the medievalist imagination of Carlyle, Ruskin, Morris and other Victorian thinkers. Al-Da'mi & A. Muhammed - 2013 - Denver, Colorado: Outskirts Press.
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  36. Poets as judges : judicial rhetoric and the literary imagination.Martha C. Nussbaum - 2014 - In Maksymilian Del Mar & Peter Goodrich (eds.), Legal theory and the humanities. Ashgate.
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  37. The power of imagination.Peter Richards - 2014 - In Charles Foster, Jonathan Herring & Israel Doron (eds.), The law and ethics of dementia. Hart Publishing.
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  38. Fichte's experiments with the productive imagination.Brett Fulkerson-Smith - 2014 - In Tom Rockmore & Daniel Breazeale (eds.), Fichte and Transcendental Philosophy. Palgrave-Macmillan.
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  39. The Rediscovery of the Political Imagination.Matthew Flinders - 2015 - In Gerry Stoker, B. Guy Peters & Jon Pierre (eds.), The relevance of political science. Palgrave.
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  40. Lokavidya perspectives: a philosophy of political imagination for the knowledge age.Amit Basole (ed.) - 2015 - Delhi: Aakar Books in association with Vidya Ashram, Varanasi.
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  41. How do we imagine the past?: on metaphorical thought, experientiality and imagination in archaeology.Dragos Gheorghiu & Paul Bouissac (eds.) - 2015 - Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.
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  42. Religious Morality in John Henry Newman: Hermeneutics of the Imagination.Gerard Magill - 2015 - Cham: Imprint: Springer.
    This book is a systematic study of religious morality in the works of John Henry Newman (1801-1890). The work considers Newman's widely discussed views on conscience and assent, analyzing his understanding of moral law and its relation to the development of moral doctrine in Church tradition. By integrating Newman's religious epistemology and theological method, the author explores the hermeneutics of the imagination in moral decision-making: the imagination enables us to interpret complex reality in a practical manner, to relate belief with (...)
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  43. Emelie Jonsson. The Early Evolutionary Imagination: Literature and Human Nature.Judith P. Saunders - 2022 - Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 6 (2):127-130.
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  44. Imagination.Valerie van Mulukom - 2022 - Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 6 (2):137-140.
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  45. Thinking and imagination: between science and art.Olaf Breidbach - 2015 - Aurora, Colorado: The Davies Group, Publishers.
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  46. Urban Agriculture and Environmental Imagination.Samantha Noll - 2019 - In Sharon Meagher, Samantha Noll & Joseph S. Biehl (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of the City. New York, NY, USA: pp. 100-130.
    While we are currently experiencing a renaissance in philosophical work on agriculture and food ( Barnhill, Budolfson, & Doggett 2016 ; Thompson 2015 ; Kaplan 2012 ), these topics were common sources of discussion throughout the three-thousand-year history of Western thought. For example, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (2014 ) explored connections between fulfi lling human promise and systems of agriculture ( Thompson & Noll 2015 ) and Hippocrates (1923 ) stressed the importance of cultivating agricultural products provided by nature (...)
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  47. The Study of Relationship between Lao Zhuang Inaction’s Thought and Jung’s Positive Imagination Techniques.周学辉吴 睿 - 2022 - Advances in Philosophy 11 (5):1040.
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  48. RANIERI, JOHN Disturbing Revelation: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and the Bible, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2010, IX + 272 pp.; LAZIER, BENJAMIN God Interrupted. Heresy and the European Imagination between the World Wars, Princeton University Press, Princeton - Oxford, 2009, XIV + 254 pp. [REVIEW]María Alejandra Vanney - 2012 - Anuario Filosófico:197-203.
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  49. Imagination, music, and the emotions: a philosophical study.Saam Trivedi - 2017 - Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
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  50. A pedagogy of faith: the theological imagination of Paulo Freire.Irwin Leopando - 2017 - New York, NY, USA: Bloomsbury Academic, Plc.
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1 — 50 / 2017