This article criticises existing solutions to the 'puzzle of imaginative resistance', reconstrues it, and offers a solution of its own. About the Book : Imagination, Philosophy and the Arts is the first comprehensive collection of papers by philosophers examining the nature of imagination and its role in understanding and making art. Imagination is a central concept in aesthetics with close ties to issues in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, yet it has not received the kind of (...) sustained, critical attention it deserves. This collection of seventeen brand new essays critically examines just how and in what form the notion of imagination illuminates fundamental problems in the philosophy of art. (shrink)
Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we’re reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we’re playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó Gendler, (...) have discussed apparent counterexamples when p is “morally deviant”. Many other statements that are conceptually impossible also seem to be counterexamples. In this paper I do four things. I survey the range of counterexamples, or at least putative counterexamples, to the principles. Then I look to explanations of the counterexamples. I argue, following Gendler, that the explanation cannot simply be that morally deviant claims are impossible. I argue that the distinctive attitudes we have towards moral propositions cannot explain the counterexamples, since some of the examples don’t involve moral concepts. And I put forward a proposed explanation that turns on the role of ‘higher-level concepts’, concepts that if they are satisfied are satisfied in virtue of more fundamental facts about the world, in fiction, and in imagination. (shrink)
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. Philosophers have primarily theorized about this phenomenon from the armchair. In this paper, we demonstrate the utility of empirical methods for investigating imaginative resistance. We present two studies that help to establish the psychological reality of imaginative resistance, and to uncover one factor that is significant for explaining this phenomenon but low in psychological salience: genre. Furthermore, our studies have the methodological upshot of showing (...) how empirical tools can complement the predominant armchair approach to philosophical aesthetics. (shrink)
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 (...) of imagination, including: Imagination in historical context: Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Husserl, and Sartre What is imagination? The relation between imagination and mental imagery; imagination contrasted with perception, memory, and dreaming Imagination in aesthetics: imagination and our engagement with music, art, and fiction; the problems of fictional emotions and ‘imaginative resistance’ Imagination in philosophy of mind and cognitive science: imagination and creativity, the self, action, child development, and animal cognition Imagination in ethics and political philosophy, including the concept of 'moral imagination' and empathy Imagination in epistemology and philosophy of science, including learning, thought experiments, scientific modelling, and mathematics. The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy _of Imagination_ is essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind and psychology, aesthetics, and ethics. It will also be a valuable resource for those in related disciplines such as psychology and art. (shrink)
This paper argues that there is no genuine puzzle of ‘imaginative resistance’. In part 1 of the paper I argue that the imaginability of fictional propositions is relative to a range of different factors including the ‘thickness’ of certain concepts, and certain pre-theoretical and theoretical commitments. I suggest that those holding realist moral commitments may be more susceptible to resistance and inability than those holding non-realist commitments, and that it is such realist commitments that ultimately motivate the problem. However, I (...) argue that the relativity of imaginability is not a particularly puzzling feature of imagination. In part 2, I claim that it is the so-called ‘alethic’ puzzle, concerning fictional truth, which generates a real puzzle about imaginative resistance. However, I argue that the alethic puzzle itself depends on certain realist assumptions about the nature of fictional truth which are implausible and should be rejected in favour of an interpretive view of fictional truth. Once this is done, I contend, it becomes evident that the supposed problem of imaginative resistance as it has hitherto been discussed in the literature is not puzzling at all. (shrink)
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. On one influential diagnosis of imaginative resistance, the systematic difficulties are due to these particular propositions’ discordance with real-world norms. This essay argues that this influential diagnosis is too simple. While imagination is indeed by default constrained by real-world norms during narrative engagement, it can be freed with the power of genre conventions and expectations.
A fiction may prescribe imagining that a pig can talk or tell the future. A fiction may prescribe imagining that torturing innocent persons is a good thing. We generally comply with imaginative prescriptions like the former, but not always with prescriptions like the latter: we imagine non-evaluative fictions without difficulty but sometimes resist imagining value-rich fictions. Thus arises the puzzle of imaginative resistance. Most analyses of the phenomenon focus on the content of the relevant imaginings. The present analysis focuses instead (...) on the character of certain kinds of imaginings, arguing that we resist in such cases given the rich evaluative character of the imaginings prescribed, and the agent-dependent constraints on imagining in such ways. (shrink)
The problem of imaginative resistance holds interest for aestheticians, literary theorists, ethicists, philosophers of mind, and epistemologists. We present a somewhat opinionated overview of the philosophical discussion to date. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. We then review existing responses to the problem, giving special attention to recent research directions. Finally, we consider the philosophical significance that imaginative resistance has—or, at least, is alleged to have—for issues in moral psychology, theories of cognitive architecture, and modal epistemology.
Where is imagination in imaginative resistance? We seek to answer this question by connecting two ongoing lines of inquiry in different subfields of philosophy. In philosophy of mind, philosophers have been trying to understand imaginative attitudes’ place in cognitive architecture. In aesthetics, philosophers have been trying to understand the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. By connecting these two lines of inquiry, we hope to find mutual illumination of an attitude (or cluster of attitudes) and a phenomenon that have vexed philosophers. Our (...) strategy is to reorient the imaginative resistance literature from the perspective of cognitive architecture. Whereas existing taxonomies of positions in the imaginative resistance literature have focused on disagreements over the source and scope of the phenomenon, our taxonomy focuses on the psychological components necessary for explaining imaginative resistance. (shrink)
I present and discuss a counterexample to Kendall Walton's necessary condition for fictionality that arises from considering serial fictions. I argue that although Walton has not in fact provided a necessary condition for fictionality, a more complex version of Walton's condition is immune from the counterexample.
Recent cognitive accounts of the imagination propose that imagining and believing are in the same “code”. According to the single code hypothesis, cognitive mechanisms that can take input from both imagining and from believing will process imagination-based inputs (“pretense representations”) and isomorphic beliefs in much the same way. In this paper, I argue that the single code hypothesis provides a unified and independently motivated explanation for a wide range of puzzles surrounding fiction.
It is advisable to treat some sorts of discourse about fiction with the aid of an intensional operator "in such-And-Such fiction...." the operator may appear either explicitly or tacitly. It may be analyzed in terms of similarity of worlds, As follows: "in the fiction f, A" means that a is true in those of the worlds where f is told as known fact rather than fiction that differ least from our world, Or from the belief worlds of the community in (...) which the fiction originated. (shrink)
This text probes the psychic and social roots of artistic scenarios of loss. Demonstrating that artistic activity is inextricably bonded to imaginary scripts of bereavement and these in turn to patterns of social dominance, the author argues in favor of an "aesthetics of lessness" that is, postmodern resistance to imaginary inscriptions of grief and their misogynist sequels. The book draws on psychoaesthetics, discourse theory and feminist social critiques to analyse literary visual figurations of loss. Included in its analysis of the (...) romantic and post-romantic imaginary are readings of Merimee, Nerval, Hoffmann, H.D., Anne Hebert, Proust and Beckett, and essays, among others, on Kollwitz, Glacometti, Bellmer, Klee, Gidal and Oulton. (shrink)
In this book, Richard Viladesau contrues Christian theology as a "theological aesthetics". He examines Christian revelation and its presuppositions in relationship to three interconnected meanings of the "aesthetic" in modern thought: human cognition as feeling and imagination; the realm of the beautiful; and the arts. In each area, examples from the arts are correlated with classical and contemporary theological themes.
Monotheism of reason & heart, polytheism of imagination and art: That is what we need!Even today aesthetics is not considered among Edmund Husserl’s main interests. It is true, however, that there are many other phenomenological approaches to aesthetics among his “heretic” disciples, as Ricoeur calls them. I am thinking here especially of Sartre’s L’Imagination and L’imaginaire, Roman Ingarden’s Untersuchungen zur Ontologie der Kunst and Das literarische Kunstwerk, and Mikel Dufrenne’s Phénoménologie de l’expérience esthétique. Nevertheless, it may be objected that in (...) regard to Husserl’s work in aesthetics, research has been, at times, limited or simplified. Though... (shrink)
This book is a major new study of the doctrines of productivity and interest in Romanticism and classical political economy. The author argues that the widespread contemporary embrace of cultural historicism and the rejection of nineteenth-century conceptions of agency have hindered our study of aesthetics and politics. Focusing on the difficulty of coordinating paradigms of intellectual and material labor, Mieszkowski shows that the relationship between the imagination and practical reason is crucial to debates about language and ideology.From the Romantics to (...) Poe and Kafka, writers who explore Kant's claim that poetry "sets the imagination free" discover that the representational and performative powers of language cannot be explained as the products of a self-governing dynamic, whether formal or material. A discourse that neither reflects nor prescribes the values of its society, literature proves to be a uniquely autonomous praxis because it undermines our reliance on the concept of interest as the foundation of self-expression or self-determination. Far from compromising its political significance, this turns literature into the condition of possibility of freedom. For Smith, Bentham, and Marx, the limits of self-rule as a model of agency prompt a similar rethinking of the relationship between language and politics. Their conception of a linguistic labor that informs material praxis is incompatible with the liberal ideal of individualism. In the final analysis, their work invites us to think about social conflicts not as clashes between competing interests, but as a struggle to distinguish human from linguistic imperatives. (shrink)
This volume presents new essays on the propositional imagination by leading researchers. The propositional imagination---the mental capacity we exploit when we imagine that everyone is colour-blind or that Hamlet is a procrastinator---plays an essential role in philosophical theorizing, engaging with fiction, and indeed in everyday life. Yet only recently has there been a systematic attempt to give a cognitive account of the propositional imagination. These thirteen essays, specially written for the volume, capitalize on this recent work, extending the theoretical picture (...) of the imagination and exploring the philosophical implications of cognitive accounts of the imagination. The book also investigates broader philosophical issues surrounding the propositional imagination. The first section addresses the nature of the imagination, its role in emotion production, and its sophistication manifestation in childhood. The essays in the second section focus on the nature of pretence and how pretence is implicated in adult communication. The third section addresses the problem of 'imaginative resistance', the striking fact that when we encounter morally repugnant assertions in fiction, we seem to resist imagining them and accepting them as fictionally true. In the final section, contributors explore the relation between imagining, conceiving, and judgements of possibility and impossibility. The Architecture of the Imagination will be an essential resource for the growing number of philosophers and psychologists studying the nature of the imagination and on its role in philosophy, aesthetics, and everyday life. (shrink)
This book presents a solution to the problem known in philosophical aesthetics as the paradox of ugliness, namely, how an object that is displeasing can retain our attention and be greatly appreciated. It does this by exploring and refining the most sophisticated and thoroughly worked out theoretical framework of philosophical aesthetics, Kant’s theory of taste, which was put forward in part one of the Critique of the Power of Judgment. The book explores the possibility of incorporating ugliness, a negative aesthetic (...) concept, into the overall Kantian aesthetic picture. It addresses a debate of the last two decades over whether Kant's aesthetics should allow for a pure aesthetic judgment of ugliness. The book critically reviews the main interpretations of Kant’s central notion of the free play of imagination and understanding and offers a new interpretation of free play, one that allows for the possibility of a disharmonious state of mind and ugliness. In addition, the book also applies an interpretation of ugliness in Kant’s aesthetics to resolve certain issues that have been raised in contemporary aesthetics, namely the possibility of appreciating artistic and natural ugliness and the role of disgust in artistic representation. (shrink)
At the end of section §6 in the Analytic of the Beautiful, Kant defines taste as the “faculty for judging an object or a kind of representation through a satisfaction or dissatisfaction without any interest”. On the face of it, Kant’s definition of taste includes both; positive and negative judgments of taste. Moreover, Kant’s term ‘dissatisfaction’ implies not only that negative judgments of taste are those of the non-beautiful, but also that of the ugly, depending on the presence of an (...) actual displeasure. (shrink)
If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles (...) such cases raise are sometimes grouped under the heading “imaginative resistance”. In this paper, I argue against what I take to be the best attempts to dismiss the puzzles and solve them. I also tease out subtleties not sufficiently addressed in the existing literature and end by defending a unified solution of my own. According to this solution, the puzzling phenomena occur when literary works offer inadequate and exhaustive grounds for claims. The solution’s novelty lies in its giving a normative rather than psychological or alethic explanation for the puzzling phenomena, the relevant norms being those of proper artistic appreciation. (shrink)
We are far removed, in this section of the Encyclopedia on memory, from the mnemotechnic icons described by Francis Yates in The Art of Memory and much closer to Augustine's advice about how to remember and to psalmodize Scripture. Memory, for Hegel, is the learning by rote of names, or of words considered as names, and it can therefore not be separated from the notation, the inscription, or the writing down of these names. In order to remember, one is forced (...) to write down what one is likely to forget. The idea in other words, makes its sensory appearance, in Hegel, as the material inscription of names. Thought is entirely dependent on a mental faculty that is mechanical through and through, as remote as can be from the sounds and the images of the imagination or from the dark mine of recollection, which lies beyond the reach of words and of thought[…]No wonder, then, that Hegel's Aesthetics turns out to be a double and possibly duplicitous text. Dedicated to the preservation and the monumentalization of classical art, it also contains all the elements which make such a preservation impossible from the start. Theoretical reasons prevent the convergence of the apparently historical and the properly theoretical components of the work. This results in the enigmatic statements that have troubled Hegel's readers, such as the assertion that art is for us a thing of the past. This has usually been interpreted and criticized or, in some rare instances, praised as a historical diagnosis disproven or borne out by actual history. We can now assert that the two statements "art is for us a thing of the past" and "the beautiful is the sensory manifestation of the idea" are in fact one and the same. To the extent that the paradigm for art is thought rather than perception, the sign rather than the symbol, writing rather than painting or music, it will also be memorization rather than recollection. As such, it belongs indeed to a past which, in Proust's words, could never be recaptured, retrouve. Art is "of the past" in a radical sense, in that, like memorization, it leaves the interiorization of experience forever behind. It is of the past to the extent that it materially inscribes, and thus forever forgets, its ideal content. The reconciliation of the two main theses of the Aesthetics occurs at the expense of the aesthetic as a stable philosophical category. What the Aesthetics calls the beautiful terms turns out to be, also, something very remote from what we associate with the suggestiveness of symbolic form.Paul de Man, Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University, is the author of Blindness and Insight and Allegories of Reading and is currently completing a book tentatively titled The Resistance to Theory. His previous contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Political Allegory in Rousseau", "The Epistemology of Metaphor", and "A Letter". (shrink)
David Hume's relatively short essay 'Of the Standard of Taste' deals with some of the most difficult issues in aesthetic theory. Apart from giving a few pregnant remarks, near the end of his discussion, on the role of morality in aesthetic evaluation, Hume tries to reconcile the idea that tastes are subjective (in the sense of not being answerable to the facts) with the idea that some objects of taste are better than others. 'Tastes', in this context, are the pleasures (...) or displeasures that a person can take in the beauties of poems, paintings, and other artistic compositions (though Hume also wants to stress the continuities between tastes, so understood, and the bodily sense of taste). The position at which Hume arrives in the essay (despite some dialectical unclarity) is that some people – the 'true judges'– determine by their 'joint verdict' which works are meritorious. This solution continues to exercise a fascination, as does Hume's complicated route to it. Author Recommends: Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. This paper places 'Of the Standard of Taste' in an especially rich context, and asks why Hume concentrates on true judges instead of the improvement of one's own taste. Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 177–208. This chapter, embedded in an exposition of Mothersill's 'First Thesis' (the denial that there are principles of taste) and 'Second Thesis' (the affirmation that some judgments of taste are genuine judgments), gives a detailed running commentary on Hume's essay. A shorter self-contained version of the chapter appeared as 'Hume and the Paradox of Taste' in Aesthetics: A Critical Anthology , 2nd ed., eds. George Dickie, Richard Sclafani, and Ronald Roblin (New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1989, 269–86). Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. An importance recent article, Levinson's piece argues that the 'real' difficulty with Hume's essay has gone unnoticed: why should I care about what Hume's true judges think? Christopher Williams, 'Some Questions in Hume's Aesthetics', Philosophy Compass 2/2 (2007). This article provides a brief overview of the topics discussed under weeks 3–5 in the sample syllabus below. It is intended to provide a roadmap for the particular set of readings listed there. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. This is a stimulating paper in moral philosophy that treats Hume's essay on taste as a model for a serious subjectivism. Wiggins then presents his own brand of subjectivism as an alternative to Hume's. Online Materials: Hume's Aesthetics (Ted Gracyk): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume-aesthetics/ Sample Syllabus: Recommended background reading on Hume's historical context: Peter Kivy, The Seventh Sense: Francis Hutcheson and Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics , 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially Part III. Recommended background reading on the general topic of taste: David A. Whewell, 'Taste', Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 415–18. Dabney Townsend and Carolyn Korsmeyer, 'Taste', Encyclopedia of Aesthetics , ed. Michael Kelly (New York, NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 4:355–62. Ted Cohen, 'The Philosophy of Taste: Thoughts on the Idea', Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics , ed. Peter Kivy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), 167–73. Week 1: Hume on beauty, art, and aesthetic judgment in the Treatise of Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals The following references are usable for any complete edition of the Treatise or Enquiry Treatise , 2.1.8 ('Of Beauty and Deformity') Treatise , 2.2.5 ('Of Our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful') Treatise , 2.2.8 ('Of Malice and Envy'), final three paragraphs Treatise , 2.2.11 ('Of the Amorous Passion, or Love Betwixt the Sexes') Treatise , 3.1.2 ('Moral Distinctions Deriv'd from a Moral Sense') Treatise , 3.3.1 ('Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues') Treatise , 3.3.5 ('Some Farther Reflexions Concerning the Natural Virtues') Enquiry , Appendix 1 ('Of moral sentiment') Week 2: Hume's essays Essays Moral, Political, and Literary , ed. Eugene Miller (Indianapolis, IN: LibertyClassics, 1985) is the most commonly used edition today. 'Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion' 'Of Eloquence' 'Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences' 'Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing' 'Of Tragedy' 'Of the Standard of Taste' Week 3: Circularity–Virtuous or Vicious? Peter Kivy, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: Breaking the Circle', British Journal of Aesthetics (1967): 57–66. David Wiggins, 'A Sensible Subjectivism?', Needs, Values, and Truth , 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 185–214. Week 4: Rules of Art Mary Mothersill, 'Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste" ', Beauty Restored (Oxford: Clarendon, 1984), 177–208. James Shelley, 'Hume's Double Standard of Taste', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (1994): 437–45. Nick Zangwill, 'Hume, Taste, and Teleology', The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), 149–65. Week 5: The True Judge Malcolm Budd, 'Hume and Kant', 'Hume's Standard of Taste', 'Hume and Human Nature', Values of Art (London: Allen Lane, 1995), 16–24 . Paul Guyer, 'The Standard of Taste and the "Most Ardent Desire of Society" ', Values of Beauty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 37–76. Jerrold Levinson, 'Hume's Standard of Taste: The Real Problem', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (2002): 227–38. Week 6: Moralism in Aesthetic Judgment: Hume and Beyond Kendall Walton, 'Morals in Fiction and Fictional Morality', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1994): 27–50. Richard Moran, 'The Expression of Feeling in Imagination', Philosophical Review (1994): 75–106. Tamar Szabo-Gendler, 'The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance', Journal of Philosophy (2000): 55–81. Focus Questions 1. How does Hume distinguish between matters of 'fact' and 'sentiment'? 2. What is a 'rule of art', and are there any rules? 3. Can a bad critic be 'silenced'? 4. What are the characteristics of good critics? 5. Should we expect good critics to agree on the merits of a work, and should I care about becoming a good critic myself? 6. Is it possible to distinguish variations in taste for which we should expect a standard and variations for which it is 'vain' to have such an expectation? 7. How is the excellence of a work related to the exercise of taste? 8. If a work of literature has a moral outlook that differs from our own, should we consider the work defective on literary grounds? (shrink)
The dissertation considers what is at stake when theoretical wonder ceases to be an originating affect for speculative thought and becomes, instead, a limiting concept for critical philosophy. It attempts to show that: wonder functions for its classical proponents in an entirely different context than that presupposed by the aesthetics of the sublime . This difference can be ascribed to the way in which the feeling of the sublime is operative in the overcoming of modern theodicy , whereas wonder (...) is an intimation of what Edward O. Wilson has recently called, the "consilient perspective" . Whereas, wonder suggests the beginnings of an overarching conceptual unity linking together mind and nature, the sublime, by contrast, is part of an ontology of freedom, in which our subjective capacity to withstand the blows of natural contingency without resorting to conceptual redescription or aesthetic totalization reveals the workings of an underlying "faculty of resistance." The resultant ambivalence of the sublime feeling is elucidated differently by Kant and Schiller, such that the former regards it as the cognitive lucidity resulting from the self-cancellation of the passions, whereas the latter views it as a function of the will, insofar as it suggests a subjective capacity to attend to things differently. Finally, it is suggested that the true source of sublimity in Kant and Schiller is the force of personality to lend unity and meaning to phenomena which would otherwise lack such. (shrink)