In Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.), Epistemic Uses of Imagination. London: Routledge. pp. 298-318 (2021)

Nick Wiltsher
Uppsala University
Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp
This chapter explores insights concerning the relations among imagination, imagined selves, and knowledge of one’s own self that are to be found in Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet. The insights are explored via close reading of the text and comparison with contemporaries of Pessoa. First, a tempting account of the importance of imagination in The Book of Disquiet is set out. On this reading, Pessoa is immersed in miasmatic boredom, but able to temporarily rise above it through the restorative powers of escapist imagination. But, it is suggested, Pessoa neither enjoys his prolific imaginings, nor returns from them restored. It is argued that Pessoa’s disquiet owes to failures of imagination; the book presents a sharp contrast between Pessoa’s keen awareness of the importance of a successful, active imaginative life, and his failure to maintain such a thing. It is further argued that these failures point us towards a better account of imagination’s importance to Pessoa, an account that both prefigures and goes beyond Sartre’s ideas about the relations between nothingness, imagination, and self-consciousness.
Keywords Pessoa  Imagination  self
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