Synthese 199 (3-4):9411-9431 (2021)

Nathanael Stein
Florida State University
George Eliot strikingly describes one of her characters as making a mistake because he has gotten his thoughts “entangled in metaphors,” saying that we all do the same. I argue that Eliot is here giving us more than an illuminating description, but drawing our attention to a distinctive kind of mistake—a form of irrationality, in fact—of which metaphor can be an ineliminable part of the correct explanation. Her fictional case helps illuminate both a neglected function of the imagination, and a pervasive way in which metaphor can affect it. The function is the creation and maintenance of what I call imaginative expectations, which are relatively stable imaginative representations of future events or experiences, analogous to latent memories. These imaginative expectations have a distinctive causal profile and distinct ways of interacting with other mental activities. I argue that their formation is subject to at least two norms—a “source” norm and an “experience” norm—and show how metaphorical framing can give rise to violations of either.
Keywords imagination  expectation  metaphor  irrationality
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-021-03208-2
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Explaining Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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