About this topic
Summary Historically, philosophers tended to view imagination as tightly bound up with the notion of mental imagery.  Although this tradition came under attack amidst the verificationism and behaviorism of the early to mid 20th century, most philosophers today continue to see an important connection between imagery and imagination.  Exactly what that connection is, however, has been much disputed.  Important questions include the following:  Must imagination involve imagery, or can there be non-imagistic imagining?  How can we account for the difference between imagination and other mental activities (such as memory) that involve imagery?  What is the role of imagery in imagination?
Key works Ryle 1960 famously argues against the existence of mental imagery and, relatedly, that there is no such thing as a faculty of imagination.  Kind 2001 and Casey 1971 explicitly take up the connection between mental imagery and imagination.  Byrne 2010 and Noordhof 2002 each take up the connection between imagining and related activities like perceiving.  Block 1981 is a useful collection of articles about mental imagery; Tye 1991 discusses the nature of imagistic representation.  
Introductions Kind 2005
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  1. Internal and External Pictures.Catharine Abell & Gregory Currie - 1999 - Philosophical Psychology 12 (4):429-445.
    What do pictures and mental images have in common? The contemporary tendency to reject mental picture theories of imagery suggests that the answer is: not much. We show that pictures and visual imagery have something important in common. They both contribute to mental simulations: pictures as inputs and mental images as outputs. But we reject the idea that mental images involve mental pictures, and we use simulation theory to strengthen the anti-pictorialist's case. Along the way we try to account for (...)
  2. Imagination and Reason.Joseph Agassi - 2007 - 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?
  3. Iconic Turn. A Plea for Three Turns of the Screw.Emmanuel Alloa - 2015 - Culture, Theory, and Critique 56 (3).
    In the early 1990s, W.J.T. Mitchell and Gottfried Boehm independently proclaimed that the humanities were witnessing a ‘pictorial’ or ‘iconic turn’. Twenty years later, we may wonder whether this announcement was describing an event that had already taken place or whether it was rather calling forth for it to happen. The contemporary world is, more than ever, determined by visual artefacts. Still, our conceptual arsenal, forged during centuries of logocentrism, still falls behind the complexity of pictorial meaning. The essay has (...)
  4. Phantasia. Aristoteles' Theorie der Sichtbarmachung.Emmanuel Alloa - 2014 - In Gottfried Boehm, Emmanuel Alloa, Orlando Budelacci & Gerald Wildgruber (eds.), Imagination. Suchen und Finden. W. Fink.
  5. Imaginative Vividness.Kind Amy - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    How are we to understand the phenomenology of imagining? Attempts to answer this question often invoke descriptors concerning the “vivacity” or “vividness” of our imaginative states. Not only are particular imaginings often phenomenologically compared and contrasted with other imaginings on grounds of how vivid they are, but such imaginings are also often compared and contrasted with perceptions and memories on similar grounds. Yet however natural it may be to use “vividness” and cognate terms in discussions of imagination, it does not (...)
  6. Mental Imagery and the Varieties of Amodal Perception.Robert Briscoe - 2011 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (2):153-173.
    The problem of amodal perception is the problem of how we represent features of perceived objects that are occluded or otherwise hidden from us. Bence Nanay (2010) has recently proposed that we amodally perceive an object's occluded features by imaginatively projecting them into the relevant regions of visual egocentric space. In this paper, I argue that amodal perception is not a single, unitary capacity. Drawing appropriate distinctions reveals amodal perception to be characterized not only by mental imagery, as Nanay suggests, (...)
  7. Recollection, Perception, Imagination.Alex Byrne - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 148 (1):15 - 26.
    Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. Our first question is.
  8. Imagination: Imagining and the Image.Edward S. Casey - 1971 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 31 (June):475-490.
  9. The Psychology of Imagination. By Jean-Paul Sartre. Philosophical Library. (New York. 1948. Pp. 285. Price $3.75.).Frederick C. Copleston - 1950 - Philosophy 25 (92):89-.
  10. Hume's Phenomenology of the Imagination.Timothy M. Costelloe - 2007 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 5 (1):31-45.
    This paper examines the role of the imagination in Hume's epistemology. Three specific powers of the imagination are identified – the imagistic, conceptual and productive – as well as three corresponding kinds of fictions based on the degree of belief contained in each class of ideas the imagination creates. These are generic fictions, real and mere fictions, and necessary fictions, respectively. Through these manifestations, it is emphasized, Hume presents the imagination both as the positive force behind human creativity and a (...)
  11. McGinn on Delusion and Imagination. [REVIEW]Gregory Currie & Nicholas Jones - 2006 - Philosophical Books 47 (4):306-313.
  12. False Pleasures, Appearance and Imagination in the Philebus.Sylvain Delcomminette - 2003 - Phronesis 48 (3):215-237.
    This paper examines the discussion about false pleasures in the "Philebus" (36 c3-44 a11). After stressing the crucial importance of this discussion in the economy of the dialogue, it attempts to identify the problematic locus of the possibility of true or false pleasures. Socrates points to it by means of an analogy between pleasure and doxa. Against traditional interpretations, which reduce the distinction drawn in this passage to a distinction between doxa and pleasure on the one hand and their object (...)
  13. Hume on the Imagination.Fabian Dorsch - 2015 - Rero Doc Digital Library:1-28.
    This is the original, longer draft for my entry on Hume in the 'The Routledge Hand- book of Philosophy of Imagination', edited by Amy Kind and published by Routledge in 2016 (see the separate entry). — Please always cite the Routledge version, unless there are passages concerned that did not make it into the Handbook for reasons of length. — -/- This chapter overviews Hume’s thoughts on the nature and the role of imagining, with an almost exclusive focus on the (...)
  14. Transparency and Imagining Seeing.Fabian Dorsch - 2013 - In Marcus Willaschek (ed.), Disjunctivism – Disjunctive Accounts in Epistemology and in the Philosophy of Perception. Routledge. pp. 5-32.
    In his paper, The Transparency of Experience, M.G.F. Martin has put forward a well- known – though not always equally well understood – argument for the disjunctivist, and against the intentional, approach to perceptual experiences. In this article, I intend to do four things: (i) to present the details of Martin’s complex argument; (ii) to defend its soundness against orthodox intentionalism; (iii) to show how Martin’s argument speaks as much in favour of experiential intentionalism as it speaks in favour of (...)
  15. The Unity of Imagining.Fabian Dorsch - 2012 - De Gruyter.
    Please send me an email (fabian.dorsch@unifr.ch) if you wish to receive a copy of the book. — 'In this highly ambitious, wide ranging, immensely impressive and ground-breaking work Fabian Dorsch surveys just about every account of the imagination that has ever been proposed. He identifies five central types of imagining that any unifying theory must accommodate and sets himself the task of determining whether any theory of what imagining consists in covers these five paradigms. Focussing on what he takes to (...)
  16. Transparency and Imagining Seeing.Fabian Dorsch - 2010 - Philosophical Explorations 13 (3):173-200.
    In his paper, The Transparency of Experience, M.G.F. Martin has put forward a well- known – though not always equally well understood – argument for the disjunctivist, and against the intentional, approach to perceptual experiences. In this article, I intend to do four things: (i) to present the details of Martin’s complex argument; (ii) to defend its soundness against orthodox intentionalism; (iii) to show how Martin’s argument speaks as much in favour of experiential intentionalism as it speaks in favour of (...)
  17. Imagination and the Will.Fabian Dorsch - 2005 - Dissertation, University College London
    The principal aim of my thesis is to provide a unified theory of imagining, that is, a theory which aspires to capture the common nature of all central forms of imagining and to distinguish them from all paradigm instances of non-imaginative phenomena. The theory which I intend to put forward is a version of what I call the Agency Account of imagining and, accordingly, treats imaginings as mental actions of a certain kind. More precisely, it maintains that imaginings are mental (...)
  18. Icons without turn: Über Bilder und Worte.Andreas Dorschel - 2014 - In Wilhelm Vossenkuhl (ed.), Quo vadis Design? 4 Thesen. pp. 17-37.
    Images, or icons, have been made the subject of a ‘turn’. But no new epoch under its sign is looming. The image is just one medium among others. The best we can do is to face what it may and what it may not achieve. Its main competitor is the word – though there is a field of transition between both. Words and numbers surpass the image when one needs to refer to something that cannot be seen – this holds (...)
  19. Rome (L.) Haselberger, (J.) Humphrey (Edd.) Imaging Ancient Rome. Documentation – Visualization – Imagination. Proceedings of the Third Williams Symposium on Classical Architecture, 2004. (JRA Supplementary Series 61.) Pp. 337, B/W & Colour Ills, B/W & Colour Maps. Portsmouth, Rhode Island: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2006. Cased, US$125. ISBN: 978-1-887829-61-. [REVIEW]Graeme P. Earl - 2009 - The Classical Review 59 (01):255-.
  20. Imagination in Non-Representational Painting.Andreas Elpidorou - 2010 - In Jonathan Webber (ed.), Reading Sartre: On Phenomenology and Existentialism. Routledge.
  21. Imaginative Contagion.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (2):183-203.
    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 (...)
  22. Imagery, the Imagination and Experience.Dominic Gregory - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):735-753.
    Visualizings, the simplest imaginings which employ visual imagery, have certain characteristic features; they are perspectival, for instance. Also, it seems that some but not all of our visualizings are imaginings of seeings. But it has been forcefully argued, for example by M.G.F. Martin and Christopher Peacocke, that all visualizings are imaginings of visual sensations. I block these arguments by providing an account of visualizings which allows for their perspectival nature and other features they typically have, but which also explains how (...)
  23. Sartre.Robert Hopkins - forthcoming - In Amy Kind (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Imagination. Routledge. pp. 82-93.
    In The Imaginary Sartre offers a systematic, insightful and heterodox account of imagining in many forms. Beginning with four ‘characteristics’ he takes to capture the phenomenology of imagining, he draws on considerations both philosophical and psychological to describe the deeper nature of the state that has those features. The result is a view that remains the most potent challenge to the Humean orthodoxy that to this day dominates both philosophical and psychological thinking on the topic.
  24. Imagination and Affective Response.Robert Hopkins - 2010 - In Jonathan Webber (ed.), Reading Sartre: On Phenomenology and Existentialism. Routledge. pp. 100-117.
    What is the relation between affective states, such as emotions and pleasure, and imagining? Do the latter cause the former, just as perceptual states do? Or are the former merely imagined, along with suitable objects? I consider this issue against the backdrop of Sartre’s theory of imagination, and drawing on his highly illuminating discussion of it. I suggest that, while it is commonly assumed that imaginative states cause affective responses much as do perceptions, the alternatives merit more careful consideration than (...)
  25. With Sight Too Much in Mind, Mind Too Little in Sight?Robert Hopkins - 2006 - Philosophical Books 47 (4):293-305.
  26. Picture, Image and Experience: A Philosophical Inquiry.Robert Hopkins - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.
    How do pictures represent? In this book Robert Hopkins casts new light on an ancient question by connecting it to issues in the philosophies of mind and perception. He starts by describing several striking features of picturing that demand explanation. These features strongly suggest that our experience of pictures is central to the way they represent, and Hopkins characterizes that experience as one of resemblance in a particular respect. He deals convincingly with the objections traditionally assumed to be fatal to (...)
  27. Inadequacies in Current Theories of Imagination.Mostyn W. Jones - 1995 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):313-333.
    Interest in imagination dates back to Plato and Aristotle, but full-length works have been devoted to it only relatively recently by Sartre, McKellar, Furlong, Casey, Johnson, Warnock, Brann, and others. Despite their length and variety, however, these current theories take overly narrow views of this complex phenomenon. Their definitions of “imagination” neglect the multiplicity of its meanings and tend to focus narrowly on the power of imaging alone. But imagination in the fullest, most encompassing sense centers instead on creativity, which (...)
  28. The Roots of Imagination.Mostyn W. Jones - 1994 - Dissertation, The University of Manchester
    This work presents a new theory of imagination which tries to overcome the overly narrow perpectives that current theories take upon this enigmatic, multi-faceted phenomenon. Current theories are narrowly preoccupied with images and imagery. This creates problems in explaining (1) what imagination is, (2) how it works, and (3) what its strengths and limitations are. (1) Ordinary language identifies imagination with both imaging (image-making) and creativity, but most current theories identify imagination narrowly with imaging while neglecting creativity. Yet imaging is (...)
  29. Imagining Experiences Correctly.P. Joyce - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):361-370.
    According to Mellor, we know what an experience is like if we can imagine it correctly, and we will do so if we recognise the experience as it is imagined. This paper identifies a constraint on adequate accounts of how we ordinarily imagine experiences correctly: the capacities to imagine and to recognise the experience must be jointly operative at the point of forming an intention to imagine the experience. The paper develops an account of imagining experiences correctly that meets this (...)
  30. Ein Bild, das verstanden werden kann, ist Sprache? Zur Geschichte der Bildhermeneutik.Tobias Keiling & Toni Hildebrandt - 2012 - In Dominic Delarue, Johann Schulz & Laura Sobez (eds.), Das Bild als Ereignis. Zur Lesbarkeit spätmittelalterlicher Kunst. Winter. pp. 127-160.
  31. On Time and Imagination.Robert Kilwardby - 1987 - Published for the British Academy by the Oxford University Press.
    The second volume in this series devoted to the writings of the English Dominican Robert Kilwardby, this work presents the Latin text of two Oxford treatises from the 1250s--one on time, the other on imagination. The treatise on time discusses its reality, connection with change, unity and beginning, the instant and time's relationship to eternity; the one on imagination examines the way imagery is acquired, retained and transmitted, and the relation between heart and head in the workings of common sense.
  32. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination.Amy Kind (ed.) - 2016 - Routledge.
    Imagination occupies a central place in philosophy, going back to Aristotle. However, following a period of relative neglect there has been an explosion of interest in imagination in the past two decades as philosophers examine the role of imagination in debates about the mind and cognition, aesthetics and ethics, as well as epistemology, science and mathematics. This outstanding _Handbook_ contains over thirty specially commissioned chapters by leading philosophers organised into six clear sections examining the most important aspects of the philosophy (...)
  33. Imagery and Imagination.Amy Kind - 2005 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Both imagery and imagination play an important part in our mental lives. This article, which has three main sections, discusses both of these phenomena, and the connection between them. The first part discusses mental images and, in particular, the dispute about their representational nature that has become known as the _imagery debate_ . The second part turns to the faculty of the imagination, discussing the long philosophical tradition linking mental imagery and the imagination—a tradition that came under attack in the (...)
  34. Putting the Image Back in Imagination.Amy Kind - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):85-110.
    Despite their intuitive appeal and a long philosophical history, imagery-based accounts of the imagination have fallen into disfavor in contemporary discussions. The philosophical pressure to reject such accounts seems to derive from two distinct sources. First, the fact that mental images have proved difficult to accommodate within a scientific conception of mind has led to numerous attempts to explain away their existence, and this in turn has led to attempts to explain the phenomenon of imagining without reference to such ontologically (...)
  35. Literary Narrative and Mental Imagery: A View From Embodied Cognition.Anezka Kuzmicova - 2014 - Style 48 (3):275-293.
    The objective of this article is twofold. In the first part, I discuss two issues central to any theoretical inquiry into mental imagery: embodiment and consciousness. I do so against the backdrop of second-generation cognitive science, more specifically the increasingly popular research framework of embodied cognition, and I consider two caveats attached to its current exploitation in narrative theory. In the second part, I attempt to cast new light on readerly mental imagery by offering a typology of what I propose (...)
  36. Outer Vs. Inner Reverberations: Verbal Auditory Imagery and Meaning-Making in Literary Narrative.Anezka Kuzmicova - 2013 - Journal of Literary Theory 7 (1-2):111-134.
    It is generally acknowledged that verbal auditory imagery, the reader's sense of hearing the words on a page, matters in the silent reading of poetry. Verbal auditory imagery (VAI) in the silent reading of narrative prose, on the other hand, is mostly neglected by literary and other theorists. This is a first attempt to provide a systematic theoretical account of the felt qualities and underlying cognitive mechanics of narrative VAI, drawing on convergent evidence from the experimental cognitive sciences, psycholinguistic theory, (...)
  37. Presence in the Reading of Literary Narrative: A Case for Motor Enactment.Anezka Kuzmicova - 2012 - Semiotica 2012 (189):23-48.
    Drawing on research in narrative theory and literary aesthetics, text and discourse processing, phenomenology and the experimental cognitive sciences, this paper outlines an embodied theory of presence in the reading of literary narrative. Contrary to common assumptions, it is argued that there is no straightforward relation between the degree of detail in spatial description on one hand, and the vividness of spatial imagery and presence on the other. It is also argued that presence arises from a first-person, enactive process of (...)
  38. Imagining Experiences.Peter Langland-Hassan - forthcoming - Noûs 50 (3).
    It is often held that in imagining experiences we exploit a special imagistic way of representing mentality—one that enables us to think about mental states in terms of what it is like to have them. According to some, when this way of thinking about the mind is paired with more objective means, an explanatory gap between the phenomenal and physical features of mental states arises. This paper advances a view along those lines, but with a twist. What many take for (...)
  39. On Choosing What to Imagine.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2016 - In A. Kind & P. Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 61-84.
    If imagination is subject to the will, in the sense that people choose the content of their own imaginings, how is it that one nevertheless can learn from what one imagines? This chapter argues for a way forward in addressing this perennial puzzle, both with respect to propositional imagination and sensory imagination. Making progress requires looking carefully at the interplay between one’s intentions and various kinds of constraints that may be operative in the generation of imaginings. Lessons are drawn from (...)
  40. Self-Knowledge and Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (2):226-245.
    How do we know when we have imagined something? How do we distinguish our imaginings from other kinds of mental states we might have? These questions present serious, if often overlooked, challenges for theories of introspection and self-knowledge. This paper looks specifically at the difficulties imagination creates for Neo-Expressivist, outward-looking, and inner sense theories of self-knowledge. A path forward is then charted, by considering the connection between the kinds of situations in which we can reliably say that another person is (...)
  41. Pretense, Imagination, and Belief: The Single Attitude Theory.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (2):155-179.
    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 (...)
  42. A Puzzle About Visualization.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2011 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (2):145-173.
    Visual imagination (or visualization) is peculiar in being both free, in that what we imagine is up to us, and useful to a wide variety of practical reasoning tasks. How can we rely upon our visualizations in practical reasoning if what we imagine is subject to our whims? The key to answering this puzzle, I argue, is to provide an account of what constrains the sequence in which the representations featured in visualization unfold—an account that is consistent with its freedom. (...)
  43. Imaginative Attitudes.Peter Langland‐Hassan - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (3):664-686.
    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 (...)
  44. Re-Enchanting the World: The Role of Imagination in Perception.K. Lennon - 2010 - Philosophy 85 (3):375-389.
    This paper defends what the philosopher Merleau Ponty coins 'the imaginary texture of the real'. It is suggested that the imagination is at work in the everyday world which we perceive, the world as it is for us. In defending this view a concept of the imagination is invoked which has both similarities with and differences from, our everyday notion. The everyday notion contrasts the imaginary and the real. The imaginary is tied to the fictional or the illusory. Here it (...)
  45. Out of Sight, Out of Mind.Dominic McIver Lopes - 2003 - In Matthew Kieran & Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.), Imagination, Philosophy, and the Arts.
  46. Imagination and Machine Intelligence.James Mensch - unknown
    The question of the imagination is rather like the question Augustine raised with regard to the nature of time. We all seem to know what it involves, yet find it difficult to define. For Descartes, the imagination was simply our faculty for producing a mental image. He distinguished it from the understanding by noting that while the notion of a thousand sided figure was comprehensible—that is, was sufficiently clear and distinct to be differentiated from a thousand and one sided figure—the (...)
  47. The Indeterminacy of Images: An Approach to a Phenomenology of the Imagination.Junichi Murata - 1999 - In Phenomenology: Japanese and American Perspectives. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  48. Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Volume 2, Pp. 1147-1153.Lynn Nadel (ed.) - 2005
  49. Perceptual Content and the Content of Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1723-1736.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that the phenomenal similarity between perceiving and visualizing can be explained by the similarity between the structure of the content of these two different mental states. And this puts important constraints on how we should think about perceptual content and the content of mental imagery.
  50. Perception and Imagination: Amodal Perception as Mental Imagery.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (2):239-254.
    When we see an object, we also represent those parts of it that are not visible. The question is how we represent them: this is the problem of amodal perception. I will consider three possible accounts: (a) we see them, (b) we have non-perceptual beliefs about them and (c) we have immediate perceptual access to them, and point out that all of these views face both empirical and conceptual objections. I suggest and defend a fourth account, according to which we (...)
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