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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. B. A. (1963). Literature, Philosophy, and the Imagination. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 16 (3):583-583.
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  2. Daniel Aaron’S. (2003). Re-Imagining US Literature and the Left. Historical Materialism 11 (4):395-404.
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  3. H. P. E. Abbott (2001). Imagination and the Adapted Mind: A Special Double Issue. Substance 30.
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  4. Raziel Abelson, Marie-Louise Friquegnon & Michael Lockwood (1977). The Philosophical Imagination an Introduction to Philosophy.
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  5. Joseph Agassi (2007). Imagination and Reason. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5-6):453-453.
    Byrne's book is intended to explain why people imagine the things they do when they create alternatives to reality. Two fruitful areas of further research are: (1) How can her approach explain dreams and daydreams? (2) What is the developmental time course of the child's understanding of reality and imagination?
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  6. Danielle Allen (2004). On the Sociological Imagination. Critical Inquiry 30 (2):340-341.
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  7. 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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  8. Randall Everett Allsup (2005). Hard Times: Philosophy and the Fundamentalist Imagination. Philosophy of Music Education Review 13 (2):139-142.
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  9. 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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  10. George Anastaplo (1993). Natural Right and the American Imagination. Review of Metaphysics 47 (1):172-173.
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  11. Fernando Andacht (2001). Those Powerful Materialized Dreams: Peirce on Icons and the Human Imagination. American Journal of Semiotics 17 (3):91-116.
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  12. 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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  13. David Andress (1998). Truth, Ethics and Imagination. In John Arnold, Kate Davies & Simon Ditchfield (eds.), History and Heritage: Consuming the Past in Contemporary Culture. Donhead. 237.
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  14. Leonard Angel (2010). Deeply Imaginative Scepticism. Dialogue 49 (3):489-496.
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  15. Diego Apráez Ippolito & Angélique Touzot (eds.) (2008). Les Chemins de L'Imaginaire: Hommage à Maryvonne Perrot. Centre Georges Chevrier.
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  16. Páll S. Árdal (1979). Of Sympathetic Imagination. Bowling Green Studies in Applied Philosophy 1:65-71.
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  17. Felix Arnold (1906). Ibot's Essay on the Creative Imagination. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 3 (25):695.
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  18. Felix Arnold (1905). Eillaube on L'imagination. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 2 (14):386.
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  19. 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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  20. Lucien Arréat (1894). Mémoire Et Imagination. The Monist 5:450.
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  21. R. I. Arrington (1985). Lovibond, S., "Realism and Imagination in Ethics". [REVIEW] Mind 94:488.
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  22. J. L. Austin & G. E. M. Anscombe (1958). Pretending. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 32:261-294.
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  23. Randall E. Auxier (1997). Will, Imagination, and Reason. The Personalist Forum 13 (2):325-332.
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  24. Irving Babbitt (1960/1968). On Being Creative. New York, Biblo and Tannen.
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  25. Irving Babbitt (1933). On Being Creative, and Other Essays. Philosophical Review 42:443.
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  26. J. Mark Baldwin (1908). Knowledge and Imagination. Philosophical Review 17:679.
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  27. Moshe Barasch (1992). Works of the Imagination A Comment. In Edna Ullmann-Margalit (ed.), The Scientific Enterprise. Kluwer. 117--121.
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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. F. C. Bartlett (1928). Types of Imagination. Philosophy 3 (09):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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  31. Jennifer Ann Bates (1997). The Genesis and Spirit of Imagination. Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    Given the importance of imagination for Kant, Fichte and Schelling, it is significant that the word only comes up once in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, and that it is not a chapter heading alongside "Sense-Certainty," "Perception," "Understanding" and "Reason." ;Part I. "Imagination in Theory" looks at the development in Hegel's theory of imagination from the Differenzschrift and Faith and Knowledge, through three different versions of the Philosophy of Spirit . Part II. "Imagination in Practice," focuses on the final moment of (...)
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  32. Stanley Bates (1991). The Language of Imagination. Philosophical Books 32 (3):174-176.
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  33. Greg Battye (2014). Photography, Narrative, Time: Imaging Our Forensic Imagination. Intellect Ltd.
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  34. Barbara Baumgarten (2004). God and the Creative Imagination. Tradition and Discovery 31 (3):45-46.
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  35. P. Beck (2001). The Scientific Imagination. By Gerald Holton. The European Legacy 6 (3):383-383.
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  36. Peter Beilharz (1994). Bernard Smith—Imagining the Antipodes. Thesis Eleven 38 (1):93-103.
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  37. 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.
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  38. Jeffrey T. Berger (2010). Imagining the Unthinkable, Illuminating the Present. Journal of Clinical Ethics 22 (1):17-19.
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  39. I. Berlin (1976). Vicos Philosophy of Imagination-Reply. Social Research 43 (3):426-429.
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  40. Josiah Blackmore (2008). Imagining the Moor in Medieval Portugal. Diacritics 36 (3):27-43.
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  41. 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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  42. Arnd Bohm (1987). Richard C. McCleary, Imagination's Body Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 7 (9):362-363.
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  43. Nancy Du Bois (1995). The Imaginative Basis of Thought and Culture. New Vico Studies 13:75-79.
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  44. Neil Bolton (1982). The Lived World: Imagination and the Development of Experience. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 13 (1):1-18.
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  45. Bernard Bosanquet (1916). E. Douglas Fawcett, The World as Imagination. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 15:515.
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  46. 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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  47. Stephen Boulter (2011). The Medieval Origins of Conceivability Arguments. Metaphilosophy 42 (5):617-641.
    The central recommendation of this article is that philosophers trained in the analytic tradition ought to add the sensibilities and skills of the historian to their methodological toolkit. The value of an historical approach to strictly philosophical matters is illustrated by a case study focussing on the medieval origin of conceivability arguments and contemporary views of modality. It is shown that common metaphilosophical views about the nature of the philosophical enterprise as well as certain inference patterns found in thinkers from (...)
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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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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