Coupling to Variant Information: an Ecological Account of Comparative Mental Imagery Generation

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (4):899-916 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Action-based theories of cognition place primary emphasis upon the role that agent-environment coupling plays in the emergence of psychological states. Prima facie, mental imagery seems to present a problem for some of these theories because it is understood to be stimulus-absent and thus thought to be decoupled from the environment. However, mental imagery is much more multifaceted than this “naïve” view suggests. Focusing on a particular kind of imagery, comparative mental imagery generation, this paper demonstrates that although such imagery is stimulus-absent, it is also stimulus-sensitive. Exhibiting stimulus-sensitivity is sufficient for a process to qualify as coupled to the environment. The notion of variant coupling is explicated as the coupling of a cognizer’s perceptual system to variant environmental information. By demarcating the categories of stimulus-absent and stimulus-sensitive cognition, and variant and invariant coupling, this paper expands the conceptual apparatus of action-based theories, suggesting not only a way to address the problem that comparative mental imagery generation presents, but perhaps a way to account for other forms of imagery too.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,623

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Olfactory imagery: is exactly what it smells like.Benjamin D. Young - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3303-3327.
Fidelity without mimesis: Mental imagery from visual description.Anezka Kuzmicova - 2012 - In Gregory Currie, Petr Kot̓átko & Martin Pokorny (eds.), Mimesis: Metaphysics, Cognition, Pragmatics. College Publications.
Imagery, Perception and Creativity.Francesco Ferretti - 2006 - Anthropology and Philosophy 7 (1-2):75-94.
Mental imagery: pulling the plug on perceptualism.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):3847-3868.
The Two Faces of Mental Imagery.Margherita Arcangeli - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (2):304-322.
Towards a conative account of mental imagery.Shivam Patel - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.


Added to PP

336 (#65,091)

6 months
128 (#39,310)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Matthew Sims
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

References found in this work

Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.Marc H. Bornstein - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.

View all 22 references / Add more references