The Roots of Imagination

Dissertation, The University of Manchester (1994)
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Abstract

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 a narrow power, while creativity is a broad power whose roots include imaging. Imagination in its fullest sense is thus creativity. Current theories are just about imaging, not imagination in its fullest sense. (2) This preoccupation with imagery leads current theories to ignore imagination’s transformation into more rational forms (as in the shift from myth and imagery to philosophy and reason). They see imagination in static, invariable terms, while it’s actually a dynamic, creative synergy with various roots and with an evolving history. (3) Current theories extol imagination’s powers but neglect its limitations, though both are essential to effectively use and understand imagination. Again, a culprit is the narrow preoccupation with imagery: these theories neglect the more rational forms of imagination that best reveal its full powers and perils. This work tries to remedy these shortcomings. Its aim is to more fully understand imagination by focusing not just upon imagery, but more broadly upon the evolving synergies between all of its various roots – biological, psychological and sociological – from which all its various structures, powers and limitations derive. Only with a comprehensive perspective such as this can we begin to adequately understand what imagination is, how it works, and what it can and cannot do. The overall findings of this work in these three areas are fully summarized in its final chapter. To download this work successfully, persist with options if error message appears (or contact me at [email protected]).

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Mostyn W. Jones
University of Manchester (PhD)

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