Imagination will remain a mystery—we will not be able to explain imagination—until we can break it into parts we already understand. Explaining Imagination is a guidebook for doing just that, where the parts are other ordinary mental states like beliefs, desires, judgments, and decisions. In different combinations and contexts, these states constitute cases of imagining. This reductive approach to imagination is at direct odds with the current orthodoxy, according to which imagination is a sui generis (...) mental state or process—one with its own inscrutable principles of operation. Explaining Imagination upends that view, showing how, on closer inspection, the imaginings at work in hypothetical reasoning, pretense, the enjoyment of fiction, and creativity are reducible to other familiar mental states—judgments, beliefs, desires, and decisions among them. Crisscrossing contemporary philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and aesthetics, Explaining Imagination argues that a clearer understanding of imagination is already well within reach. (shrink)
To imagine is to form a mental representation that does not aim at things as they actually, presently, and subjectively are. One can use imagination to represent possibilities other than the actual, to represent times other than the present, and to represent perspectives other than one’s own. Unlike perceiving and believing, imagining something does not require one to consider that something to be the case. Unlike desiring or anticipating, imagining something does not require one to wish or expect that (...) something to be the case. // -/- Imagination is involved in a wide variety of human activities, and has been explored from a wide range of philosophical perspectives. Philosophers of mind have examined imagination’s role in mindreading and in pretense. Philosophical aestheticians have examined imagination’s role in creating and in engaging with different types of artworks. Epistemologists have examined imagination’s role in theoretical thought experiments and in practical decision-making. Philosophers of language have examined imagination’s role in irony and metaphor. // -/- Because of the breadth of the topic, this entry focuses exclusively on contemporary discussions of imagination in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Using path-breaking discoveries of cognitive science, Mark Johnson argues that humans are fundamentally imaginative moral animals, challenging the view that morality is simply a system of universal laws dictated by reason. According to the Western moral tradition, we make ethical decisions by applying universal laws to concrete situations. But Johnson shows how research in cognitive science undermines this view and reveals that imagination has an essential role in ethical deliberation. Expanding his innovative studies of human reason in Metaphors We (...) Live By and The Body in the Mind, Johnson provides the tools for more practical, realistic, and constructive moral reflection. (shrink)
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. On one influential diagnosis of imaginative resistance, the systematic difficulties are due to these particular propositions’ discordance with real-world norms. This essay argues that this influential diagnosis is too simple. While imagination is indeed by default constrained by real-world norms during narrative engagement, it can be freed with the power of genre conventions and expectations.
Imaginative representations are crucial to the generation of action--both pretense and plain action. But well-known theories of imagination on offer in the literature  fail to describe how perceptually-formatted imaginings (mental images) and motor imaginings function in the generation of action and  fail to recognize the important fact that spatially rich imagining can be integrated into one's perceptual manifold. In this paper, I present a theory of imagining that shows how spatially rich imagining functions in the generation of (...) action. I also describe the imaginative structures behind two under-explored forms of action: semi-pretense and pretense layering. In addition, I suggest that my theory of imagining meshes better than the competitors with current work in cognitive and affective neuroscience. (shrink)
The point of this paper is to reveal a dogma in the ordinary conception of sensory imagination, and to suggest another way forward. The dogma springs from two main sources: a too close comparison of mental imagery to perceptual experience, and a too strong division between mental imagery and the traditional propositional attitudes (such as belief and desire). The result is an unworkable conception of the correctness conditions of sensory imaginings—one lacking any link between the conditions under which an (...) imagining aids human action and inference and the conditions under which it is veridical. The proposed solution is, first, to posit a variety of imaginative attitudes—akin to the traditional propositional attitudes—which have different associated correctness (or satisfaction) conditions. The second part of the solution is to allow for imaginings with “hybrid” contents, in the sense that both mental images and representations with language-like constituent structure contribute to the content of imaginings. (shrink)
Imagination contributes to human agency in ways that haven't been well understood. I argue here that pathways from imagistic imagining to emotional engagement support three important agential capacities: 1. bodily preparedness for potential events in one's nearby environment; 2. evaluation of potential future action; and 3. empathy-based moral appraisal. Importantly, however, the kind of pathway in question (I-C-E-C: imagining-categorization-emotion-conceptualization) also enables engagement with fiction. So human enchantment with fiction is a consequence of imaginative pathways that make us the kind (...) of agents we are. Finally, I use this approach to address imaginative resistance and the paradox of fiction. [The version archived here is a penultimate draft. Please email me at nei[email protected] to receive a pdf of the final in accordance with fair use.]. (shrink)
Imaginative immersion refers to a phenomenon in which one loses oneself in make-believe. Susanna Schellenberg says that the best explanation of imaginative immersion involves a radical revision to cognitive architecture. Instead of there being an attitude of belief and a distinct attitude of imagination, there should only be one attitude that represents a continuum between belief and imagination. -/- We argue otherwise. Although imaginative immersion is a crucial data point for theorizing about the imagination, positing a continuum (...) between belief and imagination is neither necessary nor sufficient for explaining the phenomenon. In addition, arguing against Schellenberg’s account reveals important but underappreciated lessons for theorizing about the imagination and for interpreting boxological representations of the mind. (shrink)
Imagination seems to play an epistemic role in philosophical and scientific thought experiments, mindreading, and ordinary practical deliberations insofar as it generates new knowledge of contingent facts about the world. However, it also seems that imagination is limited to creative generation of ideas. Sometimes we imagine fanciful ideas that depart freely from reality. The conjunction of these claims is what I call the puzzle of knowledge through imagination. This chapter aims to resolve this puzzle. I argue that (...)imagination has an epistemic role to play, but it is limited to the context of discovery. Imagination generates ideas, but other cognitive capacities must be employed to evaluate these ideas in order for them to count as knowledge. Consideration of the Simulation Theory's so-called "threat of collapse” provides further evidence that imagination does not, on its own, yield new knowledge of contingent facts, and it suggests a way to supplement imagination in order to get such knowledge. (shrink)
How do hearers manage to understand speakers? And how do speakers manage to shape hearers' understanding? Lepore and Stone show that standard views about the workings of semantics and pragmatics are unsatisfactory. They advance an alternative view which better captures what is going on in linguistic communication.
This essay argues that there are theoretical benefits to keeping distinct—more pervasively than the literature has done so far—the psychological states of imagining that p versus believing that in-the-story p, when it comes to cognition of fiction and other forms of narrative. Positing both in the minds of a story’s audience helps explain the full range of reactions characteristic of story consumption. This distinction also has interesting conceptual and explanatory dimensions that haven’t been carefully observed, and the two mental state (...) types make distinct contributions to generating emotional responses to stories. Finally, the differences between the mental states illuminate how a given story can be both shared with others and at the same time experienced as personal. (shrink)
I lay out the framework for my theory of sensory imagination in “Imagining as a guide to possibility.” Sensory imagining involves mental imagery , and crucially, in describing the content of imagining, I distinguish between qualitative content and assigned content. Qualitative content derives from the mental image itself; for visual imaginings, it is what is “pictured.” For example, visually imagine the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers to win their first Super Bowl. You picture the greenness of the field (...) and the football’s brown oblong shape. Some of what you imagine isn’t explicitly pictured, however. That it is Sunday, that it is the Super Bowl: these facts are assigned. (shrink)
This paper investigates a capacity I call actuality-oriented imagining, by which we use sensory imagination in a way that's directed at representing the actual world. I argue that this kind of imagining is distinct from other, similar mental states in virtue of its distinctive content determination and success conditions. Actuality-oriented imagining is thus a distinctive cognitive capacity in its own right. Thinking about this capacity reveals that we should resist an intuitive tendency to think of the imagination’s primary (...) function or default mode as representing the non-actual or the fictional. Instead, the imagination is a cognitive faculty that often puts us in touch with the way things are in reality. (shrink)
What kind of mental state is episodic memory? I defend the claim that it is, in key part, imagining the past, where the imagining in question is experiential imagining. To remember a past episode is to experientially imagine how things were, in a way controlled by one’s past experience of that episode. Call this the Inclusion View. I motive this view by appeal both to patterns of compatibilities and incompatibilities between various states, and to phenomenology. The bulk of the paper (...) defends the account against four objections. Imagining and remembering seem to differ in whether they are active or passive, in the forms of singular content they involve, in their relations to observation and in their relations to belief. I argue that these differences can be accommodated, and some even explained, once we flesh out what else is involved in episodic memory, in addition to imagining the past. (shrink)
A popular view has it that the mental representations underlying human pretense are not beliefs, but are “belief-like” in important ways. This view typically posits a distinctive cognitive attitude (a “DCA”) called “imagination” that is taken toward the propositions entertained during pretense, along with correspondingly distinct elements of cognitive architecture. This paper argues that the characteristics of pretense motivating such views of imagination can be explained without positing a DCA, or other cognitive architectural features beyond those regulating normal (...) belief and desire. On the present “Single Attitude” account of imagination, propositional imagining just is a form of believing. The Single Attitude account is also distinguished from “metarepresentational” accounts of pretense, which hold that both pretending and recognizing pretense in others require one to have concepts of mental states. It is argued, to the contrary, that pretending and recognizing pretense require neither a DCA nor possession of mental state concepts. (shrink)
Recent cognitive accounts of the imagination propose that imagining and believing are in the same “code”. According to the single code hypothesis, cognitive mechanisms that can take input from both imagining and from believing will process imagination-based inputs (“pretense representations”) and isomorphic beliefs in much the same way. In this paper, I argue that the single code hypothesis provides a unified and independently motivated explanation for a wide range of puzzles surrounding fiction.
In the first half of this book, I offer a theory of fictional content or, as it is sometimes known, ‘fictional truth’.The theory of fictional content I argue for is ‘extreme intentionalism’. The basic idea – very roughly, in ways which are made precise in the book - is that the fictional content of a particular text is equivalent to exactly what the author of the text intended the reader to imagine. The second half of the book is concerned with (...) showing how extreme intentionalism and the lessons learnt from it can illuminate cognate questions in the philosophy of fiction and imagination. For instance, I argue, my position helps us to explain how fiction can provide us with reliable testimony ; it helps explain the phenomenon of imaginative resistance ; and it fits with, and so supports, a persuasive theory of the nature of fiction itself. In my final chapter, I show how attending to intentionalist practices of interpreting fictional content can illuminate the nature of propositional imagining itself. (shrink)
David Lewis has argued that “having an experience is the best way or perhaps the only way, of coming to know what that experience is like”; when an experience is of a sufficiently new sort, mere science lessons are not enough. Developing this Lewisian line, L.A. Paul has suggested that some experiences are epistemically transformative. Until an individual has such an experience it remains epistemically inaccessible to her. No amount of stories and theories and testimony from others can teach her (...) what it is like to have it, nor is she able to achieve this knowledge by way of imaginative projection. It’s this last claim that is the focus of this paper. In particular, I explore the case for the claim that some experiences are in principle imaginatively inaccessible to someone who has not undergone the experience itself or one relevantly similar. As I will suggest, this case is not as strong as is often thought. Close attention to the mechanisms of imagination, and in particular, to cases of skilled imaginers, suggests how techniques of imaginative scaffolding can sometimes be used to give us epistemic access to experiences we have not had, even ones that are radically different from any that we have had before. As a result, considerably fewer experiences remain imaginatively out of reach than proponents of transformative experience would have us believe. Experience may well be the best teacher, but this paper aims to show that imagination comes in a close second. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Why would the work of the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinoza concern us today? How can Spinoza shed any light on contemporary thought? In this intriguing book, Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd show us that in spite of or rather because of Spinoza's apparent strangeness, his philosophy can be a rich resource for cultural self-understanding in the present. _Collective Imaginings_ draws on recent re-assessments of the philosophy of Spinoza to develop new ways of conceptualising issues of freedom and difference. (...) This ground-breaking study will be invaluable reading to anyone wishing to gain a fresh perspective on Spinoza's thought. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to expand the diet of examples considered in philosophical discussions of imagination and pretense, and to offer some preliminary observations about what we might learn about the nature of imagination as a result. The article presents a number of cases involving imaginative contagion: cases where merely imagining or pretending that P has effects that we would expect only perceiving or believing that P to have. Examples are offered that involve visual imagery, motor (...) imagery, fictional emotions, and social priming. It is suggested that imaginative contagion is a more prevalent phenomenon than has typically been recognized. (shrink)
We study imagination as reality-oriented mental simulation : the activity of simulating nonactual scenarios in one’s mind, to investigate what would happen if they were realized. Three connected questions concerning ROMS are: What is the logic, if there is one, of such an activity? How can we gain new knowledge via it? What is voluntary in it and what is not? We address them by building a list of core features of imagination as ROMS, drawing on research in (...) cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind. We then provide a logic of imagination as ROMS which models such features, combining techniques from epistemic logic, action logic, and subject matter semantics. Our logic comprises a modal propositional language with non-monotonic imagination operators, a formal semantics, and an axiomatization. (shrink)
Safe-by-Design (SBD) frameworks for the development of emerging technologies have become an ever more popular means by which scholars argue that transformative emerging technologies can safely incorporate human values. One such popular SBD methodology is called Value Sensitive Design (VSD). A central tenet of this design methodology is to investigate stakeholder values and design those values into technologies during early stage research and development (R&D). To accomplish this, the VSD framework mandates that designers consult the philosophical and ethical literature to (...) best determine how to weigh moral trade-offs. However, the VSD framework also concedes the universalism of moral values, particularly the values of freedom, autonomy, equality trust and privacy justice. This paper argues that the VSD methodology, particularly applied to nano-bio-info-cogno (NBIC) technologies, has an insufficient grounding for the determination of moral values. As such, an exploration of the value-investigations of VSD are deconstructed to illustrate both its strengths and weaknesses. This paper also provides possible modalities for the strengthening of the VSD methodology, particularly through the application of moral imagination and how moral imagination exceed the boundaries of moral intuitions in the development of novel technologies. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have argued in favour of the Dependency Thesis: if a subject sensorily imagines an F then he or she sensorily imagines from the inside perceptually experiencing an F in the imaginary world. They claim that it explains certain important features of imaginative experience, in brief: the fact that it is perspectival, the fact that it does not involve presentation of sensory qualities and the fact that mental images can serve a number of different imaginings. I argue (...) that the Dependency Thesis is false and that, in any event, it does not have the explanatory credentials claimed for it. Some of the features of imaginative experience are incorrectly specified, namely the absence of presentation of sensory qualities. With a more precise idea of what we need to explain, I argue that the explanation should proceed by noting that imagination and perception have phenomenally similar contents and that this is to be explained in terms of the similar kinds of representations in play. I trace the consequences of my discussion for disjunctivist theories of perception, Berkeleian Idealism and the characterisation of knowing what an experience is like. (shrink)
We often have affective responses to fictional events. We feel afraid for Desdemona when Othello approaches her in a murderous rage. We feel disgust toward Iago for orchestrating this tragic event. What mental architecture could explain these affective responses? In this paper I consider the claim that the best explanation of our affective responses to fiction involves imaginative desires. Some theorists argue that accounts that do not invoke imaginative desires imply that consumers of fiction have irrational desires. I argue that (...) there are serious worries about imaginative desires that warrant skepticism about the adequacy of the account. Moreover, it is quite difficult to articulate general principles of rationality for desires, and even according to the most plausible of these possible principles, desires about fiction are not irrational. (shrink)
Actors, undercover investigators, and readers of fiction sometimes report “losing themselves” in the characters they imitate or read about. They speak of “taking on” or “assuming” the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings of someone else. I offer an account of this strange but familiar phenomenon—what I call imaginative transportation.
What role does the imagination play in scientific progress? After examining several studies in cognitive science, I argue that one thing the imagination does is help to increase scientific understanding, which is itself indispensable for scientific progress. Then, I sketch a transcendental justification of the role of imagination in this process.
We experience resistance when we are engaging with fictional works which present certain (for example, morally objectionable) claims. But in virtue of what properties do sentences trigger this ‘imaginative resistance’? I argue that while most accounts of imaginative resistance have looked for semantic properties in virtue of which sentences trigger it, this is unlikely to give us a coherent account, because imaginative resistance is a pragmatic phenomenon. It works in a way very similar to Paul Grice's widely analysed ‘conversational implicature’.
In this illuminating study of Kant's theory of imagination and its role in interpretation, Rudolf A. Makkreel argues against the commonly held notion that Kant's transcendental philosophy is incompatible with hermeneutics. The charge that Kant's foundational philosophy is inadequate to the task of interpretation can be rebutted, explains Makkreel, if we fully understand the role of imagination in his work. In identifying this role, Makkreel also reevaluates the relationship among Kant's discussions of the feeling of life, common sense, (...) and the purposiveness of history. (shrink)
Works of fiction are alleged to differ from works of nonfiction in instructing their audience to imagine their content. Indeed, works of fiction have been defined in terms of this feature: they are works that mandate us to imagine their content. This paper examines this definition of works of fiction, focusing on the nature of the activity that ensues in response to reading or watching fiction. Investigating how imaginings function in other contexts, I show, first, that they presuppose a cognitive (...) infrastructure encompassing at least one additional kind of mental state, whose role is to determine, to some degree, truth in an imaginary world. I then discuss the implications for the definition of fiction, showing that the definition should be refined to accommodate the structure that imagining presupposes: a work counts as fiction just in case it mandates us, not only to imagine, but to engage in a more complex mental activity, an activity that in addition to imagining, involves positing a backdrop for our imaginings. (shrink)
Abstract: This entry elucidates causal and constitutive roles that various forms of imagining play in human action. Imagination influences more kinds of action than just pretend play. I distinguish different senses of the terms “imagining” and “imagination”: imagistic imagining, propositional imagining, and constructive imagining. Each variety of imagining makes its own characteristic contributions to action. Imagistic imagining can structure bodily movement. Propositional imagining interacts with desires to motivate pretend play and mimetic expressive action. And constructive imagination generates (...) representations of possibilities and actions on the basis of which we choose what to do. [Version archived here is a penultimate draft.]. (shrink)
Readers of fictions sometimes resist taking certain kinds of claims to be true according to those fictions, even when they appear explicitly or follow from applying ordinary principles of interpretation. This "imaginative resistance" is often taken to be significant for a range of philosophical projects outside aesthetics, including giving us evidence about what is possible and what is impossible, as well as the limits of conceivability, or readers' normative commitments. I will argue that this phenomenon cannot do the theoretical work (...) that has been asked of it. Resistance to taking things to be fictional is often best explained by unfamiliarity with kinds of fictions than any representational, normative, or cognitive limits. With training and experience, any understandable proposition can be made fictional and be taken to be fictional by readers. This requires a new understanding both of imaginative resistance, and what it might be able to tell us about topics like conceivability or the bounds of possibility. (shrink)
Drawing on his own experiences of imagining, Edward S. Casey describes the essential forms that imagination assumes in everyday life. In a detailed analysis of the fundamental features of all imaginative experience, Casey shows imagining to be eidetically distinct from perceiving and defines it as a radically autonomous act, involving a characteristic freedom of mind. A new preface places Imagining within the context of current issues in philosophy and psychology.
One version of the Humean Theory of Motivation holds that all actions can be causally explained by reference to a belief–desire pair. Some have argued that pretense presents counter-examples to this principle, as pretense is instead causally explained by a belief-like imagining and a desire-like imagining. We argue against this claim by denying imagination the power of motivation. Still, we allow imagination a role in guiding action as a script . We generalize the script concept to show how (...) things besides imagination can occupy this same role in both pretense and non-pretense actions. The Humean Theory of Motivation should then be modified to cover this script role. (shrink)
The problem of imaginative resistance holds interest for aestheticians, literary theorists, ethicists, philosophers of mind, and epistemologists. We present a somewhat opinionated overview of the philosophical discussion to date. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. We then review existing responses to the problem, giving special attention to recent research directions. Finally, we consider the philosophical significance that imaginative resistance has—or, at least, is alleged to have—for issues in moral psychology, theories of cognitive architecture, and modal epistemology.
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what (...) is possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (shrink)
Ignorance and Imagination advances a novel way to resolve the central philosophical problem about the mind: how it is that consciousness or experience fits into a larger naturalistic picture of the world. The correct response to the problem, Stoljar argues, is not to posit a realm of experience distinct from the physical, nor to deny the reality of phenomenal experience, nor even to rethink our understanding of consciousness and the language we use to talk about it. Instead, we should (...) view the problem itself as a consequence of our ignorance of the relevant physical facts, Stoljar shows that this change of orientation is well motivated historically, empirically, and philosophically, and that it has none of the side effects it is sometimes thought to have. The result is a philosophical perspective on the mind that has a number of far-reaching consequences: for consciousness studies, for our place in nature, and for the way we think about the relationship between philosophy and science. (shrink)
I present a formal theory of the logic and aboutness of imagination. Aboutness is understood as the relation between meaningful items and what they concern, as per Yablo and Fine’s works on the notion. Imagination is understood as per Chalmers’ positive conceivability: the intentional state of a subject who conceives that p by imagining a situation—a configuration of objects and properties—verifying p. So far aboutness theory has been developed mainly for linguistic representation, but it is natural to extend (...) it to intentional states. The proposed framework combines a modal semantics with a mereology of contents: imagination operators are understood as variably strict quantifiers over worlds with a content-preservation constraint. (shrink)
I develop a psychological account for how it is that we use imagination to metaphysically modalize, i.e., to reach conclusions about metaphysical modality. Specifically, I argue that Nichols and Stich’s (2003) cognitive theory of imagination can be extended to metaphysical modalizing. I then use the extension to explicate philosophical disagreements about whether a scenario is metaphysically possible. Thereafter, I address Nichols’ (2006) objection that psychologizing imagination makes it clear that imagination is unreliable when used to metaphysically (...) modalize. The end result is a naturalistic account for how imagination enables us to metaphysically modalize. (shrink)
The puzzle of imaginative desire arises from the difficulty of accounting for the surprising behaviour of desire in imaginative activities such as our engagement with fiction and our games of pretend. Several philosophers have recently attempted to solve this puzzle by introducing a class of novel mental states?what they call desire-like imaginings or i-desires. In this paper, I argue that we should reject the i-desire solution to the puzzle of imaginative desire. The introduction of i-desires is both ontologically profligate and (...) unnecessary, and, most importantly, fails to make sense of what we are doing in the imaginative contexts in question. (shrink)
Imagination has been assigned an important explanatory role in a multitude of philosophical contexts. This paper examines four such contexts: mindreading, pretense, our engagement with fiction, and modal epistemology. Close attention to each of these contexts suggests that the mental activity of imagining is considerably more heterogeneous than previously realized. In short, no single mental activity can do all the explanatory work that has been assigned to imagining.
Chris Frith has argued that a loss of the sense of agency is central to schizophrenia. This suggests a connection between hallucinations and delusions on the one hand, and the misidentification of the subject’s imaginings as perceptions and beliefs on the other. In particular, understanding the mechanisms that underlie imagination may help us to explain the puzzling phenomena of thought insertion and withdrawal. Frith sometimes states his argument in terms of a loss of metarepresentational capacity in schizophrenia. I argue (...) that this formulation is unhelpful. (shrink)
Our ordinary conception of imagination takes it to be essentially a conscious phenomenon, and traditionally that’s how it had been treated in the philosophical literature. In fact, this claim had often been taken to be so obvious as not to need any argumentative support. But lately in the philosophical literature on imagination we see increasing support for the view that imagining need not occur consciously. In this paper, I examine the case for unconscious imagination. I’ll consider four (...) different arguments that we can find in the recent literature—three of which are based on cases and one that is based on considerations relating to action guidance. To my mind, none of these arguments is successful. I conclude that the case for postulating unconscious imagining has not yet been well motivated. (shrink)
This essay develops a new account of the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Imaginative resistance is best conceived of as a limited phenomenon. It occurs when we try to engage imaginatively with different moral worlds that are insufficiently articulated so that they do not allow us either to quarantine our imaginative engagement from our normal moral attitudes or to agree with the expressed moral judgment from the perspective of moral deliberation. Imaginative resistance thus reveals the central epistemic importance that empathy plays (...) for our understanding of rational agents in a context where we try to make sense of the moral appropriateness of their reasons for acting. Reflecting on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance allows us to recognize important features of the relationship between imaginative perspective taking and ordinary moral deliberation. (shrink)
This paper surveys historical and recent philosophical discussions of the relations between imagination and creativity. In the first two sections, it covers two insufficiently studied analyses of the creative imagination, that of Kant and Sartre, respectively. The next section discusses imagination and its role in scientific discovery, with particular emphasis on the writings of Michael Polanyi, and on thought experiments and experimental design. The final section offers a brief discussion of some very recent work done on conceptual (...) relations between imagination and creativity. (shrink)