Imagination has been assigned an important explanatory role in a multitude of philosophical contexts. This paper examines four such contexts: mindreading, pretense, our engagement with fiction, and modal epistemology. Close attention to each of these contexts suggests that the mental activity of imagining is considerably more heterogeneous than previously realized. In short, no single mental activity can do all the explanatory work that has been assigned to imagining.
Intuitions about the transparency of experience have recently begun to play a key role in the debate about qualia. Specifically, such intuitions have been used by representationalists to support their view that the phenomenal character of our experience can be wholly explained in terms of its intentional content.[i] But what exactly does it mean to say that experience is transparent? In my view, recent discussions of transparency leave matters considerably murkier than one would like. As I will suggest, there is (...) reason to believe that experience is not transparent in the way that representationalism requires. Although there is a sense in which experience can be said to be transparent, transparency in this sense does not give us any particular motivation for representationalism—or at least, not the pure or strong representationalism that it is usually invoked to support. (shrink)
The puzzle of imaginative desire arises from the difficulty of accounting for the surprising behaviour of desire in imaginative activities such as our engagement with fiction and our games of pretend. Several philosophers have recently attempted to solve this puzzle by introducing a class of novel mental states?what they call desire-like imaginings or i-desires. In this paper, I argue that we should reject the i-desire solution to the puzzle of imaginative desire. The introduction of i-desires is both ontologically profligate and (...) unnecessary, and, most importantly, fails to make sense of what we are doing in the imaginative contexts in question. (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)
Imagination is celebrated as our vehicle for escape from the mundane here and now. It transports us to distant lands of magic and make-believe, and provides us with diversions during boring meetings or long bus rides. Yet the focus on imagination as a means of escape from the real world minimizes the fact that imagination seems also to furnish us with knowledge about it. Imagination seems an essential component in our endeavor to learn about the world in which we live--whether (...) we're planning for the future, aiming to understand other people, or figuring out whether two puzzle pieces fit together. But how can the same mental power that allows us to escape the world as it currently is also inform us about the world as it currently is? Ten original essays grapple with this neglected question; in doing so, they present a diverse array of positions ranging from cautious optimism to deep-seated pessimism. Blending perspectives from philosophy of mind, cognitive science, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, Knowledge Through Imagination sheds new light on the epistemic role of imagination. (shrink)
Despite their intuitive appeal and a long philosophical history, imagery-based accounts of the imagination have fallen into disfavor in contemporary discussions. The philosophical pressure to reject such accounts seems to derive from two distinct sources. First, the fact that mental images have proved difficult to accommodate within a scientific conception of mind has led to numerous attempts to explain away their existence, and this in turn has led to attempts to explain the phenomenon of imagining without reference to such ontologically (...) dubious entities as mental images. Second, even those philosophers who accept mental images in their ontology have worried about what seem to be fairly obvious examples of imaginings that occur without imagery. In this paper, I aim to relieve both these points of philosophical pressure and, in the process, develop a new imagery-based account of the imagination: the imagery model. (shrink)
One common response to the knowledge argument is the ability hypothesis. Proponents of the ability hypothesis accept that Mary learns what seeing red is like when she exits her black-and-white room, but they deny that the kind of knowledge she gains is propositional in nature. Rather, she acquires a cluster of abilities that she previously lacked, in particular, the abilities to recognize, remember, and imagine the color red. For proponents of the ability hypothesis, knowing what an experience is like simply (...) consists in the possession of these abilities. Criticisms of the ability hypothesis tend to focus on this last claim. Such critics tend to accept that Mary gains these abilities when she leaves the room, but they deny that such abilities constitute knowledge of what an experience is like. To my mind, however, this critical strategy grants too much. Focusing specifically on imaginative ability, I argue that Mary does not gain this ability when she leaves the room for she already had the ability to imagine red while she was inside it. Moreover, despite what some have thought, the ability hypothesis cannot be easily rescued by recasting it in terms of a more restrictive imaginative ability. My purpose here is not to take sides in the debate about physicalism, i.e., my criticism of the ability hypothesis is not offered in an attempt to defend the anti-physicalist conclusion of the knowledge argument. Rather, my purpose is to redeem the imagination from the misleading picture of it that discussion of the knowledge argument has fostered. (shrink)
Philosophers in the Western tradition have both theorized about imagination and used imagination in their theorizing about other matters. In this chapter, I first provide a brief overview of philosophical theorizing about imagination with a special focus on its relation to other mental states such as belief and perception. I then turn to a discussion of the methodological role that imagination has played in philosophy. I here focus on the imaginability principle, i.e., the claim that the imaginability of a given (...) scenario entails that such a scenario is in some sense possible. Relying on this kind of principle, philosophers have used imagination to justify theories in domains such as philosophy of mind, metaphysics and ethics. (shrink)
In this essay, the focus is not on what imagination is but rather on what it is like. Rather than exploring the various accounts of imagination on offer in the philosophical literature, we will instead be exploring the various accounts of imaginative experience on offer in that literature. In particular, our focus in what follows will be on three different sorts of accounts that have played an especially prominent role in philosophical thinking about these issues: the impoverishment view (often associated (...) with Hume), the will-dependence view (often associated with Wittgenstein), and the nonexistence view (often associated with Sartre). While there are important insights to be drawn from each of these views, each seems to me to be importantly flawed in various ways. As I will suggest, close examination reveals that none of them gives us an adequate account of the character of imaginative experience. Ultimately, in the final section of this paper, I briefly explore what their failure teaches us about the project of giving an account of imaginative experience. (shrink)
According to representationalism, the qualitative character of our phenomenal mental states supervenes on the intentional content of such states. Strong representationalism makes a further claim: the qualitative character of our phenomenal mental states _consists in_ the intentional content of such states. Although strong representationalism has greatly increased in popularity over the last decade, I find the view deeply implausible. In what follows, I will attempt to argue against strong representationalism by a two-step argument. First, I suggest that strong representationalism must (...) be _unrestricted_ in order to serve as an adequate theory of qualia, i.e., it must apply to all qualitative mental states. Second, I present considerations to show that an unrestricted form of strong representationalism is problematic. (shrink)
From the perspective of many philosophers of mind in these early years of the 21st Century, the debate between dualism and physicalism has seemed to have stalled, if not to have come to a complete standstill. There seems to be no way to settle the basic clash of intuitions that underlies it. Recently however, a growing number of proponents of Russellian monism have suggested that their view promises to show us a new way forward. Insofar as Russellian monism might allow (...) us to break out of the current gridlock, it's no wonder that it's become "hot stuff." To my mind, however, the excitement about Russellian monism is misplaced. Though some version of Russellian monism might well be true, I do not believe that it enables us to break free of the dualism/physicalism divide. As I will argue, once we properly understand what's required to flesh out an adequate monistic story, we will see that we are in an important way right back where we started. (shrink)
David Lewis has argued that “having an experience is the best way or perhaps the only way, of coming to know what that experience is like”; when an experience is of a sufficiently new sort, mere science lessons are not enough. Developing this Lewisian line, L.A. Paul has suggested that some experiences are epistemically transformative. Until an individual has such an experience it remains epistemically inaccessible to her. No amount of stories and theories and testimony from others can teach her (...) what it is like to have it, nor is she able to achieve this knowledge by way of imaginative projection. It’s this last claim that is the focus of this paper. In particular, I explore the case for the claim that some experiences are in principle imaginatively inaccessible to someone who has not undergone the experience itself or one relevantly similar. As I will suggest, this case is not as strong as is often thought. Close attention to the mechanisms of imagination, and in particular, to cases of skilled imaginers, suggests how techniques of imaginative scaffolding can sometimes be used to give us epistemic access to experiences we have not had, even ones that are radically different from any that we have had before. As a result, considerably fewer experiences remain imaginatively out of reach than proponents of transformative experience would have us believe. Experience may well be the best teacher, but this paper aims to show that imagination comes in a close second. (shrink)
As persons, we are importantly different from all other creatures in the universe. But in what, exactly, does this difference consist? What kinds of entities are we, and what makes each of us the same person today that we were yesterday? Could we survive having all of our memories erased and replaced with false ones? What about if our bodies were destroyed and our brains were transplanted into android bodies, or if instead our minds were simply uploaded to computers? -/- (...) In this engaging and accessible introduction to these important philosophical questions, Amy Kind brings together three different areas of research: the nature of personhood, theories of personal identity over time, and the constitution of self-identity. Surveying the key contemporary theories in the philosophical literature, Kind analyzes and assesses their strengths and weaknesses. As she shows, our intuitions on these issues often pull us in different directions, making it difficult to develop an adequate general theory. Throughout her discussion, Kind seamlessly interweaves a vast array of up-to-date examples drawn from both real life and popular fiction, all of which greatly help to elucidate this central topic in metaphysics. -/- A perfect text for readers coming to these issues for the first time, Persons and Personal Identity engages with some of the deepest and most important questions about human nature and our place in the world, making it a vital resource for students and researchers alike. (shrink)
In Only Imagine, Kathleen Stock defends a theory of fictional content she calls extreme intentionalism. Roughly put, this view holds that the fictional content of a text is determined solely by its author’s intention. What is true in a given work of fiction gets fixed by what the author of that fiction intends a reader to imagine.
I show how the 'innersense' (quasiperceptual) view of introspection can be defended against Shoemaker's influential 'argument from selfblindness'. If introspection and perception are analogous, the relationship between beliefs and introspective knowledge of them is merely contingent. Shoemaker argues that this implies the possibility that agents could be selfblind, i.e., could lack any introspective awareness of their own mental states. By invoking Moore's paradox, he rejects this possibility. But because Shoemaker's discussion conflates introspective awareness and selfknowledge, he cannot establish his conclusion. (...) There is thirdperson evidence available to the selfblind which Shoemaker ignores, and it can account for the considerations from Moore's paradox that he raises. (shrink)
Philosophers have long suggested that our attitude of special concern for the future is problematic for a reductionist view of personal identity, such as the one developed by Derek Parfit in Reasons and Persons. Specifically, it is often claimed that reductionism cannot provide justification for this attitude. In this paper, I argue that much of the debate in this arena involves a misconception of the connection between metaphysical theories of personal identity and our special concern. A proper understanding of this (...) connection reveals that the above-mentioned objection to reductionism cannot get off the ground. Though the connection I propose is weaker than the connection typically presupposed, I nonetheless run up against a conclusion reached by Susan Wolf in “Self-Interest and Interest in Selves.” According to Wolf, metaphysical theses about the nature of personal identity have no significance for our attitude of special concern. By arguing against Wolf’s treatment of self-interest, I suggest that her arguments for this conclusion are misguided. This discussion leads to further clarification of the nature of the link between theories of personal identity and our special concern and, ultimately, to a better understanding of the rationality of this attitude. (shrink)
Both imagery and imagination play an important part in our mental lives. This article, which has three main sections, discusses both of these phenomena, and the connection between them. The first part discusses mental images and, in particular, the dispute about their representational nature that has become known as the _imagery debate_ . The second part turns to the faculty of the imagination, discussing the long philosophical tradition linking mental imagery and the imagination—a tradition that came under attack in the (...) early part of the twentieth century with the rise of behaviorism. Finally, the third part of this article examines modal epistemology, where the imagination has been thought to serve an important philosophical function, namely, as a guide to possibility. (shrink)
In this paper, by analyzing the Chalmers-Searle debate about Chalmers’ zombie thought experiment, I attempt to determine the implications that the irreducibility of consciousness has for the truth of materialism. While Chalmers claims that the irreducibility of consciousness forces us to embrace dualism, Searle claims that it has no deep metaphysical import and, in particular, that it is fully consistent with his materialist theory of mind. I argue that this disagreement hinges on the notion of physical identity in play in (...) the discussion. Clarifying this notion in turn helps to clarify what it means to claim that consciousness is irreducible, and provides insight into the implications that the truth of this claim would have for the dualism-materialism debate. Ultimately, I suggest that the sort of irreducibility that can be motivated by the zombie thought experiment is not sufficient to require the rejection of materialism. (shrink)
Introspection is the process by which someone comes to form beliefs about her own mental states. We might form the belief that someone else is happy on the basis of perception – for example, by perceiving her behavior. But a person typically does not have to observe her own behavior in order to determine whether she is happy. Rather, one makes this determination by introspecting.
Not all imaginings are successful; sometimes when an imaginer sets out to imagine some target, her imagining involves some kind of mistake. The error can be diagnosed in two ways: the imaginer imagines her target in a way that mischaracterizes it, or the imaginer fails to imagine her target at all and rather imagines something else that is similar in some ways to that target. In ordinary day-to-day imaginings, explanations of type seem most natural, but in discussions of philosophical imaginings, (...) philosophers tend to adopt explanations of type. This paper argues against this tendency. (shrink)
__: In this essay I explore the account of imaginative phenomenology developed by Uriah Kriegel in _The Varieties of Consciousness_. On his view, the difference between perceptual phenomenology and imaginative phenomenology arises from the way that they present the existential status of their object: While perceptual experience presents its object as existent, imaginative experience presents its object as non-existent. While I agree with Kriegel that it’s likely that the difference between imaginative phenomenology and perceptual phenomenology is one not just of (...) degree but of kind, I worry about the particular account that he has developed. I thus develop two lines of criticism. First, I question whether Kriegel is right that imagination presents its object as non-existent. Second, I question whether this account of imaginative phenomenology is consistent with other commonly-accepted facts about the nature of imagination. _Keywords_: Imagination; Perception; Phenomenology; J.-P. Sartre; Epistemic Value; Emotion ___Fenomenologia dell’immaginazione e status esistenziale_ _Riassunto_: In questo articolo intendo indagare l’approccio alla descrizione della fenomenologia dell’immaginazione sviluppata da Uriah Kriegel in _The Varieties of Consciousness_. Dal suo punto di vista, la differenza tra fenomenologia della percezione e fenomenologia dell’immaginazione si mostra nel modo in cui queste presentano lo status esistenziale dei loro oggetti: se l’esperienza percettiva presenta il proprio oggetto come esistente, l’esperienza immaginativa lo presenta come non-esistente. Per un verso, concordo con Kriegel sulla probabilità che la differenza tra fenomenologia dell’immaginazione e fenomenologia della percezione non sia di grado ma di genere, mentre, per altro verso, non sono convinta della correttezza del suo approccio. Pertanto vorrei sollevare due criticità. In primo luogo, mi chiedo se Kriegel sia nel giusto quando ritiene che l’immaginazione presenti il proprio oggetto come non-esistente; in secondo luogo, mi chiedo se questa descrizione della fenomenologia dell’immaginazione sia coerente con altri fatti, comunemente accettati, circa la natura dell’immaginazione. _Parole chiave_: Immaginazione; Percezione; Fenomenologia; J.-P. Sartre; Valore epistemico; Emozione. (shrink)
The question of personal identity—what makes a person the same person over time—is puzzling. Through the course of a life, someone might undergo a dramatic alteration in personality, radically change her values, lose almost all of her memories, and undergo significant changes in her physical appearance. Given all of these potential changes, why should we be inclined to regard her as the same person? Battlestar Galactica presents us with an even bigger puzzle: What makes a Cylon the same Cylon over (...) time? There are only twelve different models, but there are many copies of each. So what makes the resurrected Caprica Six the same Cylon as the one who seduced Gaius Baltar into betraying humanity, and yet a different Cylon from the tortured Gina or Shelly Godfrey? (shrink)
Carruthers’s central project in Phenomenal Consciousness is to naturalize consciousness. Given the vast success of naturalism in science, he maintains that we should require powerful reasons to abandon it when constructing philosophical theories of consciousness. Unsurprisingly, he then argues that there are no such reasons. In particular, he claims that the well-known arguments of Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson fail, as do inverted and absent qualia arguments. Carruthers’s main strategy for defusing these arguments involves first distinguishing a “thin” notion of (...) property from a “thick” notion of property and then arguing that the various antinaturalistic arguments conflate these two different notions. Although he admits that the antinaturalist may not find these considerations wholly convincing, he construes the dialectical situation in such a way as to relieve him of any obligation to do more. As long as it can be shown that the antinaturalistic arguments are not obviously successful, which he takes himself to have done, Carruthers claims that the presumption in favor of naturalism remains. Thus, a theory of consciousness must be compatible with the following two naturalistic claims: first, all mental events occur in accordance with causal laws; and second, all mental events can be given a reductive explanation in physical terms. (shrink)