About this topic
Summary Perception provides us with access to the actual world -- to things that actually exist and to states of affairs that actually occur.  In contrast, imagination provides us with access to merely possible worlds -- to things that do not actually exist and to states of affairs that do not actually occur.  Imagination is philosophically important for its role in many different domains of inquiry.  In aesthetics, imagination is invoked to explain our engagement with fiction, music, and the visual arts.  In modal epistemology, imagination is invoked to explain how we can justify our modal beliefs.  In philosophy of mind, imagination is invoked to explain our capacity for mindreading.  More generally, imagination is thought to connect with creativity and thus to play a role not only in artistic creation but also in scientific and mathematical discovery. 
Key works White 1990 provides a survey of historical treatments of the imagination.  Walton 1990 and Currie 1990 are the seminal texts for the use of imagination in our engagement with fiction.  Several useful recent collections include Nichols 2006 (focusing on pretense, possibility, and fiction), Gendler & Hawthorne 2002 (focusing on modal epistemology), and Kieran & Lopes 2003 (focusing on literature and the visual arts).  Block 1981 is a slightly older collection that focuses on mental imagery.  For a discussion of the nature of imagination, see Kind 2001.
Introductions Useful encyclopedia articles include Gendler 2011 and Kind 2005.
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Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Imagination
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  1. H. P. E. Abbott (2001). Imagination and the Adapted Mind: A Special Double Issue. Substance 30.
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  2. Daniel Albright (1981). Representation and the Imagination Beckett, Kafka, Nabokov, and Schoenberg /Daniel Albright. --. --. University of Chicago Press,1981.
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  3. J. Allen (2008). Philosophy and Porous Imagination: Between Coral Reefs. South African Journal of Philosophy 27 (4):92-92.
    Diving into the life of the tropical coral reefs and Amadou Hampâté Ba’s reflections on the person conjoin in this work, which is at once philosophical and poetic. The permeable parameters of philosophy, which enable thought to hover between unstable contours rather than to prioritize secure foundations, open to a porous imagination, tracing and retracing panoramic geographies and contemporary tensions of globalization and development. Porous imagination slips, glides, between archipelagos of clay rooftops and refuge dotting the Sudan and the smallest (...)
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  4. Randall Everett Allsup (2005). Hard Times: Philosophy and the Fundamentalist Imagination. Philosophy of Music Education Review 13 (2):139-142.
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  5. Matthew C. Altman (2011). Matters of Spirit: J. G. Fichte and the Technological Imagination (Review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (2):259-261.
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  6. George Anastaplo (1993). Natural Right and the American Imagination. Review of Metaphysics 47 (1):172-173.
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  7. Kirsteen Anderson (2010). The Whole Learner: The Role of Imagination in Developing Disciplinary Understanding. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 9 (2):205-221.
    This article challenges the predominance of modularization across the UK university system, arguing that the fragmentation of the learning experience which results from this model undermines the possibility of a disciplinary understanding. It proposes instead a practice of imaginative writing which, by engaging students’ experience, interest and enthusiasm, encourages them to develop an appreciation of their discipline and the intellectual and discursive resources to participate meaningfully in it. The argument is supported by detailed discussion of the teaching and learning experience (...)
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  8. Wayne C. Anderson (1986). The Finite I Am: Reason and Imagination in Coleridge's Religious Thought. Ultimate Reality and Meaning 9 (4):243-261.
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  9. Leonard Angel (2010). Deeply Imaginative Scepticism. Dialogue 49 (3):489-496.
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  10. David B. Annis (1998). Fostering Creativity in Philosophy. Metaphilosophy 29 (1&2):95-106.
    The American Philosophical Association suggests that studying philosophy can have an important impact on one's creative thinking ability. This paper abstracts from the empirical research on creativity a reasonable model of creative thinking, and discusses what the account implies about fostering creative thinking in philosophy courses. Given the empirical research on creativity and the nature of philosophy, studying philosophy can have an important impact on one's creative thinking ability, but faculty need to focus on it in their courses.
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  11. Diego Apráez Ippolito & Angélique Touzot (eds.) (2008). Les Chemins de L'Imaginaire: Hommage à Maryvonne Perrot. Centre Georges Chevrier.
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  12. Páll S. Árdal (1979). Of Sympathetic Imagination. Bowling Green Studies in Applied Philosophy 1:65-71.
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  13. Felix Arnold (1906). Ibot's Essay on the Creative Imagination. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 3 (25):695.
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  14. Felix Arnold (1905). Eillaube on L'imagination. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 2 (14):386.
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  15. Lucien Arréat (1919). Note sur Les rapports de la crédulité avec l'imagination. Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 88:479 - 483.
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  16. Marc Augé (1997). La Guerre des Rêves Exercices d'Ethno-Fiction.
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  17. Randall E. Auxier (1997). Will, Imagination, and Reason. The Personalist Forum 13 (2):325-332.
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  18. Irving Babbitt (1960). On Being Creative. New York, Biblo and Tannen.
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  19. Irving Babbitt (1933). On Being Creative, and Other Essays. Philosophical Review 42:443.
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  20. J. Mark Baldwin (1908). Knowledge and Imagination. Philosophical Review 17:679.
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  21. Carmen Balzer (1992). Creative Imagination and Dream. Analecta Husserliana 38:363.
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  22. Moshe Barasch (1992). Works of the Imagination A Comment. In Edna Ullmann-Margalit (ed.), The Scientific Enterprise. Kluwer 117--121.
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  23. Laura Barefield (2005). The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief. [REVIEW] The Medieval Review 9.
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  24. Owen Barfield (1967). Imagination and Inspiration. In Stanley Romaine Hopper & David L. Miller (eds.), Interpretation: The Poetry of Meaning. New York, Harcourt, Brace & World
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  25. Andrew Bartlett (2008). From First Hesitation to Scenic Imagination: Originary Thinking with Eric Gans. Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 15 (1):89-172.
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  26. F. C. Bartlett (1928). Types of Imagination. Philosophy 3 (9):78.
    At first sight it may seem as if Imagination can easily be characterized as a continuous process of having images; but this is very soon found to be inadequate and misleading. On the one hand we have a great number of good witnesses who insist that in their best imaginative work they have made use of no images, or of very few; and on the other, everybody makes distinction between flights of fancy, for example, which certainly involve successions of images, (...)
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  27. Stanley Bates (1991). The Language of Imagination. Philosophical Books 32 (3):174-176.
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  28. Alexander Baumgarten (2009). Sicut Speculum Animatum. From Aristotles’ Concept Of Imagination To Albert The Great’s Intentionalism / Sicut Speculum Animatum. De L’Imagination Aristotelicienne A L’Intentionnalisme D’Albert Le Grand. [REVIEW] Studia Philosophica 1.
    My paper approaches Aristotle’s concept of imagination considering its various meanings as possible sources for the contemporary phenomenology. It argues that the phenomenological interpretation of imagination in terms of intentionality could be referred back to Avicenna, Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, due to their understandig of imagination as part of an entirely receptive subjectivity.
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  29. Barbara Baumgarten (2004). God and the Creative Imagination. Tradition and Discovery 31 (3):45-46.
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  30. P. Beck (2001). The Scientific Imagination. By Gerald Holton. The European Legacy 6 (3):383-383.
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  31. Peter Beilharz (1994). Bernard Smith—Imagining the Antipodes. Thesis Eleven 38 (1):93-103.
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  32. Guy Bennett-Hunter (2014). The Travel Literature of Xavier de Maistre and its Philosophical Significance. In Garth Lean, Russell Staif & Emma Waterton (eds.), Travel and Imagination. Ashgate 75-88.
    In this chapter, I present some philosophical reflections on the theme of the imagination. The main inspiration for these reflections comes from two writers, both of whom are mentioned in Alain de Botton’s (2003) The Art of Travel: Joris-Karl Huysmans and Xavier de Maistre. De Botton uses both of these writers in his book as ‘guides’, people whose work prompts his own ruminations, Huysmans in the first chapter and de Maistre in the last. Speculatively, I infer from this structure that (...)
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  33. Jeffrey T. Berger (2010). Imagining the Unthinkable, Illuminating the Present. Journal of Clinical Ethics 22 (1):17-19.
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  34. Josiah Blackmore (2008). Imagining the Moor in Medieval Portugal. Diacritics 36 (3):27-43.
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  35. Karen Blough (2003). The Key to the Brescia Casket: Typology and the Early Christian Imagination. [REVIEW] The Medieval Review 3.
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  36. Radu J. Bogdan (2013). Mindvaults: Sociocultural Grounds for Pretending and Imagining. The MIT Press.
    Looks at what the author calls "mindvaulting," or the human mind's ability to vault over the realm of current perception, motivation, emotion and action, to leap—consciously and deliberately—to past or future, possible or impossible, ...
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  37. Arnd Bohm (1987). Richard C. McCleary, Imagination's Body Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 7 (9):362-363.
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  38. Arnd Bohm (1987). Richard C. McCleary, Imagination's Body. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 7:362-363.
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  39. Nancy Du Bois (1995). The Imaginative Basis of Thought and Culture. New Vico Studies 13:75-79.
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  40. Neil Bolton (1982). The Lived World: Imagination and the Development of Experience. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 13 (1):1-18.
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  41. Bernard Bosanquet (1916). E. Douglas Fawcett, The World as Imagination. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 15:515.
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  42. Chiara Bottici (2014). Imaginal Politics: Images Beyond Imagination and the Imaginary. Columbia University Press.
    Offering a new, systematic understanding of the imaginal and its nexus with the political, Chiara Bottici brings fresh insight into the formation of political and power relationships and the paradox of a world rich in imagery yet seemingly ...
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  43. Pierre Boudot (1969). L'imagination. Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 74 (3):281 - 290.
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  44. Patrick L. Bourgeois (2013). Imagination and Postmodernity. Lexington Books.
    This book, focusing on the central role of the imagination in contemporary philosophy, addresses challenges and problems that emerge today in conflicting positions, including a concentration on the role of the imagination in the work of Paul Ricoeur in contrast and in opposition to its role in such postmodern thinkers as Derrida and Lyotard.
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  45. Christophe Bouriau (1998). Jean-François pic de la mirandole : L'imagination entre ciel et terre. Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 188 (4):463-482.
    Comment transmettre et diffuser les vérités révélées sans recourir à une imagination poétique ou artistique, suspecte de rabattre l'homme vers les séductions terrestres et de le gonfler d'orgueil? La solution fournie par Jean - François Pic de la Mirándole à ce problème dans son De Imaginatione consacre l'émergence d'une fonction nouvelle de l'imagination, que l'on verra reprise et développée dans les grands textes apologétiques du XVIIe siècle. How can one pass on and spread revealed truths without resort to a poetic (...)
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  46. John D. Boyd (1989). "SJ"'I Say More': Sacrament and Hopkins's Imaginative Realism.". Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 42:51-64.
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  47. Corin Braga (2010). ”Imagination”, ”Imaginaire”, ”Imaginal” Three Concepts for Defining Creative Fantasy. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 6 (16):59-68.
    This paper comparatively presents three notions related to the concept of creative fantasy. These three terms (”imagination”, ”imaginaire”, ”imaginal”) have been developed by the French school of research on the imagination (“recherches sur l’imaginaire”), which is little known in the Anglo-Saxon academic field. As such, the terms don’t even have convenient translations and linguistic equivalents. Briefly, imagination is fantasy conceived as a combinatory faculty of the psyche. French rationalistic “philosophes” saw it as a misleading and rather weakly creative ability. ”L’imaginaire” (...)
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  48. Roland Breeur (2008). Nichols, Sh., The Architecture of the Imagination. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 70 (1):183.
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  49. Stanislas Breton (1976). Poétique de l''me : Imagination Et Création. Revue Philosophique De Louvain 74 (23):411-430.
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  50. Karl Britton (1961). BRETT, R. L.-"Reason and Imagination". [REVIEW] Philosophy 36:74.
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