Imagery and the Coherence of Imagination: A Critique of White


Authors
Nigel Thomas
California State University, Los Angeles
Abstract
Traditionally ‘imagination’ primarily denotes the faculty of mental imagery, other usages being derivative. However, contemporary philosophers commonly hold it to be a polysemous term, with several unrelated senses. This effectively eliminates this culturally important concept as an appropriate explanandum for science, and paves the way for a thoroughgoing eliminative materialism. White challenges both these views of imagination, arguing that ‘imagine’ never means ‘suppose,’ ‘believe,’ ‘pretend’ or ‘visualize,’ that imagery may occur without imagination, and that the true sense of ‘imagine’ is ‘think of as possibly being so.’ I defend a version of the traditional view. The disseverance of imagination from imagery is motivated by an implicit version of the theory of mental images as pictures. Other contemporary scientific theories of imagery do not entail it. I defend a view of imagery as arising from the interpretative aspect of perception and connect this, and our contemporary concept of imagination, to the root Aristotelian concept of φαντασία.This captures the association between imagination and creativity, and reveals the coherence of the concept, more plausibly than White’s theory.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI jpr_1997_20
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