Imagination: A Lens, Not a Mirror

Philosophers' Imprint 19 (2019)
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The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. This approach is infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them.



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Nick Wiltsher
Uppsala University

Citations of this work

Imagination.Shen-yi Liao & Tamar Gendler - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Two Kinds of Imaginative Vividness.Julia Langkau - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (1):33-47.
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