Lectures on Imagination

University of Chicago Press (2024)
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Ricoeur’s theory of productive imagination in previously unpublished lectures. The eminent philosopher Paul Ricoeur was devoted to the imagination. These previously unpublished lectures offer Ricoeur’s most significant and sustained reflections on creativity as he builds a new theory of imagination through close examination, moving from Aristotle, Pascal, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant to Ryle, Price, Wittgenstein, Husserl, and Sartre. These thinkers, he contends, underestimate humanity’s creative capacity. While the Western tradition generally views imagination as derived from the reproductive example of the image, Ricoeur develops a theory about the mind’s power to produce new realities. Modeled most clearly in fiction, this productive imagination, Ricoeur argues, is available across conceptual domains. His theory provocatively suggests that we are not constrained by existing political, social, and scientific structures. Rather, our imaginations have the power to break through our conceptual horizons and remake the world.



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