Three thoughts strongly influence recent work on sensory imagination, often without explicit articulation. The image thought says that all mental states involving a mental image are imaginative. The attitude thought says that, if there is a distinctive imaginative attitude, it is a single, monolithic attitude. The function thought says that the functions of sensory imagination are identical or akin to functions of other mental states such as judgment or belief. Taken together, these thoughts create a theoretical context within which eliminativism (...) appears attractive. Eliminativism is the idea that we needn’t refer to a distinctive attitude in order to characterize sensory imagination: the attitudes involved in other states provide all the resources we need. Peter Langland-Hassan’s account of sensory imagination provides an example of such eliminativism. Via close examination of this account, I make manifest the three thoughts and their collective tendency to support eliminativism. I argue that all three are dubious, and that we should reject eliminativism; we need a distinctive imaginative attitude if we are to adequately explicate sensory imagination. (shrink)
Can a person privileged in some respect understand what it is like to be disprivileged in that respect? Some say yes; some say no. I argue that both positions are correct, because ‘understand what it is like to be disprivileged’ is ambiguous. Sometimes, it means grasp of the character of particular experiences of disprivileged people. Privileged people can achieve this. Sometimes, it means grasp of the general character shared by experiences of disprivileged people. Privileged people cannot achieve this. However, there (...) is a general kind of understanding that they can achieve: understanding of why individual experiences have their character, in relation to privilege and disprivilege. This understanding is a skill, not knowledge. It is difficult and discomforting for the privileged to acquire and is easily conflated with knowledge of general experiential character. Distinguishing and characterizing these kinds of understanding clarifies whether, and how, the privileged might understand what it is like to be disprivileged. (shrink)
According to recent orthodoxy, imagination is best characterised in terms of distinctive imaginative states. But this view is ill-suited to characterisation of the full range of imaginative activities—creation, fantasy, conceiving, and so on. It would be better to characterise imagination in terms of a distinctive imaginative process, with the various imaginative activities as more determinate implementations of the determinable process.
In ‘Listening to Other Minds’, Enrico Terrone provides an account of the mental activity in which we ought to engage to appreciate pop music. He argues that we should ‘play a game of make-believe’ in which we imagine that we can ‘hear … the mind’ of a fictional character. We should use this ability to grasp the thoughts and feelings that the mind contains, and thus undertake ‘exploration’ of the character’s ‘inner life’. This article argues, first, that only a simplified (...) version of the account is plausible; second, that its plausibility as a general account of pop music depends on a dubious conception of the ‘paradigm cases’ ; third, that its desirability as an account of a narrower range of cases is questionable; and, fourth, that it is motivated by unsuitable assumptions about representation in pop. (shrink)