Vividness as a natural kind

Synthese 199 (1-2):3023-3043 (2020)
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Abstract

Imaginings are often characterized in terms of vividness. However, there is little agreement in the philosophical literature as to what it amounts to and how to even investigate it. In this paper, we propose a natural kind methodology to study vividness and suggest treating it as a homeostatic property cluster with an underlying nature that explains the correlation of properties in that cluster. This approach relies on the empirical research on the vividness of mental imagery and contrasts with those accounts that treat vividness as an explanatory primitive and with those that attempt to provide a definition. We apply the natural kind methodology to make several substantive claims about the vividness of mental imagery. First, we will argue that it forms a homeostatic property cluster, in that it is reliably correlated with, but not defined by, some properties, such as the level of detail, clarity, perception-likeness and intensity. In arguing for this claim, we also show how the cluster can be modified in the light of empirical research by complementing it with a correlation between vividness and familiarity. Second, we will argue that these correlations can be explained by an underlying property at the architectural level; i.e., the availability of stored sensory information for the elaboration of a mental image.

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Author Profiles

Uku Tooming
University of Tartu
Kengo Miyazono
Hokkaido University

References found in this work

A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness.Bernard J. Baars - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1950 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1 (4):328-332.

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