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. Imagination as a Process.Nick Wiltsher - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    According to recent orthodoxy, imagination is best characterised in terms of distinctive imaginative states. But this view is ill-suited to characterisation of the full range of imaginative activities—creation, fantasy, conceiving, and so on. It would be better to characterise imagination in terms of a distinctive imaginative process, with the various imaginative activities as more determinate implementations of the determinable process.
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  2. Does an Inkling Belong in Science and Religion? Human Consciousness, Epistemology and the Imagination.Victoria Lorrimar - forthcoming - Zygon.
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  3. Cartesian Moral Imagination.Saja Parvizian - manuscript
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  4. The Transformative Function of Imagination in Hume's Account of Sympathy.Saja Parvizian - manuscript
  5. Imagination, Geniuses and Thought Collectives.Łukasz Mścisławski - 2021 - Philosophical Problems in Science 71:175-190.
    In his book Wojciech Sady attempts to reconstruct the structure of the fundamental transformations that can be described as the relativistic and quantum revolution. Referring to rich historical material and Ludwik Fleck’s reflections on the development of scientific knowledge, the author tries to explain how it is possible that “scientists began to think differently than they had been taught.” Sady’s work, although not devoid of somewhat weaker points, is a brave and thought-provoking attempt to propose his own explanation of the (...)
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  6. The Creative Imagination and the Study Of Place.Gary Backhaus - 2001 - Philosophy and Geography 4 (2):239-243.
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  7. Finitude and the Precritical Imagination: Heidegger's Confrontation with Idealism in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics and its Bearing on His Philosophy of Art.James Phillips - 2021 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 59 (4):606-628.
    The Southern Journal of Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  8. Conceivability Errors and the Role of Imagination in Symbolization.Lucia Oliveri - 2021 - JOLMA 2 (2):293-310.
    In the years 1675-84, Leibniz sought to disprove Descartes’s account of clear and distinct perception by implementing a three-step argumentative strategy. The first part of the paper reconstructs the argument and highlights what aspects of Descartes’s epistemology it addresses. The reconstruction shows that the argument is based on conceivability errors. These are a kind of symbolic cognition that prove Descartes’s clear and distinct perception as introspectively indistinguishable from Leibniz’s symbolic cognition. The second part of the paper explores the epistemic implication (...)
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  9. 11. Badiou and Sartre: Freedom, From Imagination to Chance.Brian A. Smith - 2012 - In Sean Bowden & Simon Duffy (eds.), Badiou and Philosophy. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 203-224.
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  10. Interactive Religious Imagination.Malm Lindberg Ingrid - 2021 - The Junkyard.
  11. 'A Five-Trunked, Four-Tusked Elephant is Running in the Sky’: How Free is Imagination According to Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta?Isabelle Ratié - 2010 - Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques 64 (2).
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  12. Concept-Less Schemata: The Reciprocity of Imagination and Understanding in Kant’s Aesthetics.Luigi Filieri - 2021 - Kantian Review 26 (4):511-529.
    In this paper, I discuss Kant’s concept-less schematism in the third Critique1 and make three claims: 1) concept-less schematism is entirely consistent with the schematism in the first Critique; 2) concept-less schematism is schematism with no empirical concept as an outcome; and 3) in accordance with 1) and 2), the imagination is free to synthesize the given manifold and leads to judgements of taste without this meaning either that the categories play no role at all or that these judgements are (...)
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  13. A Radical Imagination for Nursing: Generative Insurrection, Creative Resistance.Jessica Dillard-Wright - 2022 - Nursing Philosophy 23 (1).
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  14. Imagination, Application, and Ethics: A Review of a Collection of Writings by Richard Kearney. [REVIEW]Graham McCaffrey - 2021 - Journal of Applied Hermeneutics 2021 (2021).
    Littlejohn, M.E... Imagination now: A Richard Kearney reader. Rowman & Littlefield. This is a review of a new collection of writings by Richard Kearney, from 1988 to 2019. The volume is organized around the overarching theme of the role of imagination in hermeneutics and ethics. It has four thematic sections, focusing on poetics and culture, carnal hermeneutics, religion, and politics, followed by a recent interview with Kearney. The review is written from a viewpoint of applied hermeneutics. It is a rich (...)
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  15. The Influence of the Renaissance’s Art of Memory on Descartes’ Philosophy.Gintautas Mažeikis - 1998 - Problemos 52.
    The Renaissance’s sources of Descartes’ method are discussed in this article. Main attention is paid to the cabbalistic principles of Ramon Lull’s "Short Art" and Brunian and Ramist art of memory. Descartes knew Lull’s art to which he reffered to in very derogatory terms. The same logical, Pythagorean, and cabbalistic principles of Lullism, however, became the basis for the art of memory of the Renaissance and for the natural magic of the Renaissance, which Descartes knew. The occult art of memory (...)
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  16. The Paradox of Pictorial Representation. A Wittgensteinian Solution.Alessandro Cavazzana - 2021 - Studi di Estetica 21 (3):137-155.
    When Wittgenstein claims that "the expression of a change of aspect is the expression of a new perception and at the same time of the perception's being unchanged" (Wittgenstein 1953: 196), he expresses a paradox that Gombrich (Gombrich 1960) modifies in this way: (a 1) the observer x perceives a picture P under a new aspect; (b 1) if x perceives P under a new aspect then x's perception of P has changed; (c 1) but x's perception of P has (...)
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  17. Memory and Perspective.C. J. McCarroll & John Sutton - 2017 - In Sven Bernecker & Kourken Michaelian (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. pp. 113–126.
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  18. Learning Through the Scientific Imagination.Fiora Salis - 2020 - Argumenta 6 (1):65-80.
    Theoretical models are widely held as sources of knowledge of reality. Imagination is vital to their development and to the generation of plausible hypotheses about reality. But how can imagination, which is typically held to be completely free, effectively instruct us about reality? In this paper I argue that the key to answering this question is in constrained uses of imagination. More specifically, I identify make-believe as the right notion of imagination at work in modelling. I propose the first overarching (...)
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  19. Of Predators and Prey: Imagination in Scientific Modeling.Fiora Salis - 2020 - In Imagination and Art: Explorations in Contemporary Theory. Brill. pp. 451–474.
    What are theoretical models and how do they contribute to a scientific understanding of reality? In this chapter, I will argue that models are akin to fictional stories in that they are human-made artifacts created through the imaginative activities of scientists. And I will suggest that the sort of imagination involved in modeling is make-believe and that this is constrained in three main ways which, together, enable knowledge of reality. I will conclude by addressing recent criticisms against the fiction view (...)
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  20. The Scientific Imagination: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives, Edited by Arnon Levy and Peter Godfrey-Smith.Letitia Meynell - forthcoming - Mind.
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  21. Stit-Logic for Imagination Episodes with Voluntary Input.Christopher Badura & Heinrich Wansing - forthcoming - Review of Symbolic Logic:1-52.
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  22. A Case for Heidegger’s Interpretation of the Kantian Imagination.Morganna Lambeth - 2021 - In Camilla Serck-Hanssen & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), The Court of Reason: Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress. De Gruyter. pp. 1287-1296.
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  23. Imagination Schematizing in the Court of Reason.Jodie Heap - 2021 - In Camilla Serck-Hanssen & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), The Court of Reason: Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress. De Gruyter. pp. 309-318.
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  24. The “Urbild” of “Einbildung”: The Archetype in the Imagination in Eighteenth-Century German Aesthetics.Julian Johannes Immanuel Koch - 2021 - Journal of the History of Ideas 82 (4):569-591.
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  25. Utopian Imagination in Ancient Iran: The Nostalgia of a Lost Paradise.Robab Khosravi - 2021 - Utopian Studies 32 (3):582-597.
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  26. Beyond the Limits of Imagination: Abductive Inferences From Imagined Phenomena.Michael Traynor - 2021 - Synthese (Online First):1-23.
    The present paper proposes a route to modal claims that allows us to infer to certain possibilities even if they are sensorily unimaginable and beyond the evidential capacity of stipulative imagining. After a brief introduction, Sect. 2 discusses imaginative resistance to help carve a niche for the kinds of inferences about which this essay is chiefly concerned. Section 3 provides three classic examples, along with a discussion of their similarities and differences. Section 4 recasts the notion of potential explanation in (...)
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  27. The Imaginal as Spectacle: An Aristotelian Interpretation of Contemporary Politics.Abigail Iturra - 2021 - Interfere 2:35-49.
    Our contemporary politics faces the paradoxical problem that while we are inundated with images on our screens, we nevertheless seem to lack creative political imagination to conceive of solutions to our global problems. One account for this paradox is Chiara Bottici’s suggestion that the constant stream of virtual images produced qualitatively alters them to such an extent that they become ends in themselves: thus, spectacularizing our politics. My claim, against Bottici’s, is that it is not the case that the increase (...)
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  28. Informal Logic: Possible Worlds and Imagination.John Eric Nolt - 1984 - New York, NY, USA: Mcgraw-Hill.
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  29. Inference and Imagination.John M. Dolan - 1994 - Minneapolis, MN, USA: Archimedean Point Press.
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  30. Correction to: Arnon Levy, Peter Godfrey‑Smith (Eds.): The Scientific Imagination: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives.Michael T. Stuart - 2021 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 52 (4):617-617.
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  31. Revelation of the Continents of Imagination.Roman Galovič - forthcoming - Anthropology of Consciousness.
    Anthropology of Consciousness, EarlyView.
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  32. The Empathy Dilemma: Democratic Deliberation, Epistemic Injustice and the Problem of Empathetic Imagination.Catriona Mackenzie & Sarah Sorial - forthcoming - Res Publica:1-25.
    One of the challenges facing complex democratic societies marked by deep normative disagreements and differences along lines of race, gender, sexuality, culture and religion is how the perspectives of diverse individuals and social groups can be made effectively present in the deliberative process. In response to this challenge, a number of political theorists have argued that empathetic perspective-taking is critical for just democratic deliberation, and that a well-functioning democracy requires the cultivation in citizens of empathetic skills and virtues. In this (...)
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  33. Resilience Thinking and the Moral Imagination.Raymond J. Davidson Jr - 2019 - In Kelly A. Parker & Heather E. Keith (eds.), Pragmatist and American Philosophical Perspectives on Resilience. pp. 81-94.
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  34. Analoga and Phantasmata: On the Intuitiveness of Imagination in Husserl and Sartre.Alain Flajoliet - 2021 - Research in Phenomenology 51 (2):221-245.
    In this essay, I study the departure performed in The Imaginary from the Husserlian position spanning from the Logical Investigations and the 1904/1905 lectures on the imagination. In Sartre’s conception, the imagination in its two forms is never intuitive. Moreover, in an act of imagination we can never find immanent sensible contents. In Husserl, the imagination in its two forms, is a sensible intuition, like perception. Furthermore, every act of imagination apprehends immanent sensible contents.
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  35. “A Kind of Magic”: Emotions, Imagination, Language – A Reading of Sartre.Claudio Majolino - 2021 - Research in Phenomenology 51 (2):200-220.
    This paper maintains that Sartre’s concept of magic has to be considered as a full-fledged and quite technical phenomenological concept. Such concept describes a very specific way in which one is able to be conscious-of-something and reveals some structural features of consciousness and its mode of existence. Moreover the “magical” cluster emotions-imagination-language also appears to be the existential matrix, as it were, from which fictions are generated: starting from the most original fiction of all, namely the constitutive fiction upon which (...)
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  36. Revelation of the Continents of Imagination.Roman Galovič - forthcoming - Anthropology of Consciousness.
    Anthropology of Consciousness, EarlyView.
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  37. Curiosidad clasificatoria y cultura nacional en el Reino Unido entre los siglos XVIII y XIX. Reseña de Harriet Ritvo, The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1997. [REVIEW]Biani Paola Sánchez López -
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  38. Self-Deception, Emotions, and Imagination in Nietzsche.Emma Syea - forthcoming - History of Philosophy Quarterly.
    Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality includes several cases of agents who are, prima facie, self-deceived. Recent work has linked these cases to deflationary accounts on the one hand and intentionalist Sartrean accounts on the other. But neither is fully satisfactory. I suggest a new account that gives a central role to focused daydreaming and imagination, especially as related to affective content that threatens to destabilize self-deception. This approach, not neatly categorizable, builds upon both deflationary and intentionalist accounts, emphasizing links (...)
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  39. Dream and the Aesthetics of Existence: Revisiting “Foucault’s Ethical Imagination”.Edward McGushin - 2021 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 47 (8):987-1000.
    For the later Foucault, as for the early Foucault, the dream represents a privileged disclosure of the ethics of the self, and the relation to truth. What, then, is the function of the dream in the...
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  40. Unshackling Imagination: How Philosophical Pragmatism can Liberate Entrepreneurial Decision-Making.John F. McVea & Nicholas Dew - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-16.
    Despite the evident importance of imagination in both ethical decision-making and entrepreneurship, significant gaps remain in our understanding of its actual role in these processes. As a result, scholars have called for a deeper understanding of how imagination impacts value creation in society and how this critical human faculty might more profoundly connect our theories of ethics and business decision-making. In this paper, we attempt to fill one of these gaps by scrutinizing the underlying philosophical foundations of imagination and applying (...)
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  41. Trendsetters and Imagination: Adam Smith’s Views on Change in Fashion.Anna Markwart - 2021 - Aisthema, International Journal 8 (1).
    This paper presents a reconstruction and interpretation of the process of change in Adam Smith’s philosophy basing on the example of changes in fashion. I shall focus on the role of imagination, as well as on the role of the wealthy in the process. I shall analyse how sympathy, respect and cognitive errors result in looking up to and mimicking the great. Something introduced by a small number of people becomes fashionable, as others follow. However, the processes of change will (...)
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  42. Fictional Empathy, Imagination, and Knowledge of Value.Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran - forthcoming - In Magnus Englander & Susi Ferrarello (eds.), Ethics and Empathy.
    This paper maintains that empathy with fictional characters, aka fictional empathy, is morally valuable insofar as it can provide the empathizer with knowledge of values. More precisely, the paper argues that fictional empathy enables the empathizer to become imaginatively acquainted with the other’s values, even if these values are very different from one’s own. After motivating the topic in the introduction (section 1), the paper presents some thoughts about the epistemology of value and empathy, establishing a distinction between direct and (...)
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  43. Imagination and Revision.Giuseppina D'Oro & Jonas Ahlskog - forthcoming - In C. M. van den Akker (ed.), The Routledge Companion to History and Theory. Routledge. pp. 215-232.
    In this contribution we explore revisionists and anti-revisionists conceptions of the historical imagination. The focus will be on how these conceptions of the historical imagination determine how one ought to answer the question of whether or not it is in principle possible to know the past in its own terms rather than from the perspective of the present. The contrast that we are seeking to draw is that between a conception of the historical imagination which is revisionist in the sense (...)
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  44. Imaginative Animals. Leibniz's Logic of Imagination.Lucia Oliveri - 2021 - Stoccarda, Germania: Steiner Verlag.
    Through the reconstruction of Leibniz's theory of the degrees of knowledge, this e-book investigates and explores the intrinsic relationship of imagination with space and time. The inquiry into this relationship defines the logic of imagination that characterizes both human and non-human animals, albeit differently, making them two different species of imaginative animals. -/- Lucia Oliveri explains how the emergence of language in human animals goes hand in hand with the emergence of thought and a different form of rationality constituted by (...)
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  45. How to Keep Up Good Appearances: Desire, Imagination, and the Good.Uku Tooming - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    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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  46. Imagination and the Experience of Moral Objectivity.Jennifer A. Church - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-15.
    Different notions of objectivity support different notions of what is required for a moral value or obligation to be experienced as objective. If the objectivity of a property requires that it can exist even when we fail to notice its existence, then experiencing a property as objective will require that we imagine it appearing in some way that is not presently available to us. Explaining what that imagining involves is the central task of this paper. Defending the epistemic value of (...)
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  47. Correction To: Arnon Levy, Peter Godfrey‑Smith (Eds.): The Scientific Imagination: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives: Oxford University Press: Oxford 2020, 344 Pp., £55.00 (Hardcover), ISBN 9780190212308. [REVIEW]Michael T. Stuart - 2021 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 52 (4):617-617.
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  48. Maria C'ndida Pacheco - José Francisco Meirinhos (eds.), Intellect et imagination dans la Philosophie Médiévale / Intellect and Imagination in Medieval Philosophy / Intelecto e imaginação na Filosofia Medieval. [REVIEW]Maria Leonor Xavier - 2008 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (31):219-220.
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  49. Human Creation, Imagination and Autonomy.Theofanis Tassis - 2011 - Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (37):197-213.
    During the last decade Castoriadis’ questioning has become a reference point in contemporary social theory. In this article I examine some of the key notions in Castoriadis’ work and explore how he strives to develop a theory on the irreducible creativity in the radical imagination of the individual and in the institution of the social-historical sphere. Firstly, I briefly discuss his conception of modem capitalism as bureaucratic capitalism, a view initiated by his criticism of the USSR regime. The following break (...)
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  50. Naomi A. Weiss, The Music of Tragedy. Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater, Oakland (University of California Press) 2018, XII, 284 S., ISBN 978-0-520-29590-2 (Geb.), $ 95,–The Music of Tragedy. Performance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater. [REVIEW]Marco Ercoles - 2021 - Klio 103 (2):711-717.
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1 — 50 / 1726