On the Ambiguity of Imagery and Particularity of Imaginings

Topoi:1-9 (2023)
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It is often observed that images—including mental images—are in some sense representationally ambiguous. Some, including Jerry Fodor, have added that mental images only come to have determinate contents through the contribution of non-imagistic representations that accompany them. This paper agrees that a kind of ambiguity holds with respect to mental imagery, while arguing (pace Fodor) that this does not prevent imagery from having determinate contents in the absence of other, non-imagistic representations. Specifically, I argue that mental images can represent determinate types of outlays of properties without help from any non-imagistic representations, yet can only become involved in the representation of particular objects through pairing with a non-imagistic representation of the right sort. These points are defended through reflection on the “Picture Principle,” the nature of depiction, and general principles for typing and individuating mental states.

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Peter Langland-Hassan
University of Cincinnati

Citations of this work

Imagining What You Intend.Peter Langland-Hassan - forthcoming - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences.

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References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
The Language of Thought.J. A. Fodor - 1978 - Critica 10 (28):140-143.
Explaining Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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