Imagination will remain a mystery—we will not be able to explain imagination—until we can break it into parts we already understand. Explaining Imagination is a guidebook for doing just that, where the parts are other ordinary mental states like beliefs, desires, judgments, and decisions. In different combinations and contexts, these states constitute cases of imagining. This reductive approach to imagination is at direct odds with the current orthodoxy, according to which imagination is a sui generis (...) mental state or process—one with its own inscrutable principles of operation. Explaining Imagination upends that view, showing how, on closer inspection, the imaginings at work in hypothetical reasoning, pretense, the enjoyment of fiction, and creativity are reducible to other familiar mental states—judgments, beliefs, desires, and decisions among them. Crisscrossing contemporary philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and aesthetics, Explaining Imagination argues that a clearer understanding of imagination is already well within reach. (shrink)
To imagine is to form a mental representation that does not aim at things as they actually, presently, and subjectively are. One can use imagination to represent possibilities other than the actual, to represent times other than the present, and to represent perspectives other than one’s own. Unlike perceiving and believing, imagining something does not require one to consider that something to be the case. Unlike desiring or anticipating, imagining something does not require one to wish or expect that (...) something to be the case. // -/- Imagination is involved in a wide variety of human activities, and has been explored from a wide range of philosophical perspectives. Philosophers of mind have examined imagination’s role in mindreading and in pretense. Philosophical aestheticians have examined imagination’s role in creating and in engaging with different types of artworks. Epistemologists have examined imagination’s role in theoretical thought experiments and in practical decision-making. Philosophers of language have examined imagination’s role in irony and metaphor. // -/- Because of the breadth of the topic, this entry focuses exclusively on contemporary discussions of imagination in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition. (shrink)
Imaginative representations are crucial to the generation of action--both pretense and plain action. But well-known theories of imagination on offer in the literature  fail to describe how perceptually-formatted imaginings (mental images) and motor imaginings function in the generation of action and  fail to recognize the important fact that spatially rich imagining can be integrated into one's perceptual manifold. In this paper, I present a theory of imagining that shows how spatially rich imagining functions in the generation of (...) action. I also describe the imaginative structures behind two under-explored forms of action: semi-pretense and pretense layering. In addition, I suggest that my theory of imagining meshes better than the competitors with current work in cognitive and affective neuroscience. (shrink)
Imagination seems to play an epistemic role in philosophical and scientific thought experiments, mindreading, and ordinary practical deliberations insofar as it generates new knowledge of contingent facts about the world. However, it also seems that imagination is limited to creative generation of ideas. Sometimes we imagine fanciful ideas that depart freely from reality. The conjunction of these claims is what I call the puzzle of knowledge through imagination. This chapter aims to resolve this puzzle. I argue that (...)imagination has an epistemic role to play, but it is limited to the context of discovery. Imagination generates ideas, but other cognitive capacities must be employed to evaluate these ideas in order for them to count as knowledge. Consideration of the Simulation Theory's so-called "threat of collapse” provides further evidence that imagination does not, on its own, yield new knowledge of contingent facts, and it suggests a way to supplement imagination in order to get such knowledge. (shrink)
In the first half of this book, I offer a theory of fictional content or, as it is sometimes known, ‘fictional truth’.The theory of fictional content I argue for is ‘extreme intentionalism’. The basic idea – very roughly, in ways which are made precise in the book - is that the fictional content of a particular text is equivalent to exactly what the author of the text intended the reader to imagine. The second half of the book is concerned with (...) showing how extreme intentionalism and the lessons learnt from it can illuminate cognate questions in the philosophy of fiction and imagination. For instance, I argue, my position helps us to explain how fiction can provide us with reliable testimony ; it helps explain the phenomenon of imaginative resistance ; and it fits with, and so supports, a persuasive theory of the nature of fiction itself. In my final chapter, I show how attending to intentionalist practices of interpreting fictional content can illuminate the nature of propositional imagining itself. (shrink)
Using path-breaking discoveries of cognitive science, Mark Johnson argues that humans are fundamentally imaginative moral animals, challenging the view that morality is simply a system of universal laws dictated by reason. According to the Western moral tradition, we make ethical decisions by applying universal laws to concrete situations. But Johnson shows how research in cognitive science undermines this view and reveals that imagination has an essential role in ethical deliberation. Expanding his innovative studies of human reason in Metaphors We (...) Live By and The Body in the Mind, Johnson provides the tools for more practical, realistic, and constructive moral reflection. (shrink)
What role does the imagination play in scientific progress? After examining several studies in cognitive science, I argue that one thing the imagination does is help to increase scientific understanding, which is itself indispensable for scientific progress. Then, I sketch a transcendental justification of the role of imagination in this process.
Imagination contributes to human agency in ways that haven't been well understood. I argue here that pathways from imagistic imagining to emotional engagement support three important agential capacities: 1. bodily preparedness for potential events in one's nearby environment; 2. evaluation of potential future action; and 3. empathy-based moral appraisal. Importantly, however, the kind of pathway in question (I-C-E-C: imagining-categorization-emotion-conceptualization) also enables engagement with fiction. So human enchantment with fiction is a consequence of imaginative pathways that make us the kind (...) of agents we are. Finally, I use this approach to address imaginative resistance and the paradox of fiction. [The version archived here is a penultimate draft. Please email me at [email protected] to receive a pdf of the final in accordance with fair use.]. (shrink)
We study imagination as reality-oriented mental simulation : the activity of simulating nonactual scenarios in one’s mind, to investigate what would happen if they were realized. Three connected questions concerning ROMS are: What is the logic, if there is one, of such an activity? How can we gain new knowledge via it? What is voluntary in it and what is not? We address them by building a list of core features of imagination as ROMS, drawing on research in (...) cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind. We then provide a logic of imagination as ROMS which models such features, combining techniques from epistemic logic, action logic, and subject matter semantics. Our logic comprises a modal propositional language with non-monotonic imagination operators, a formal semantics, and an axiomatization. (shrink)
Imaginative immersion refers to a phenomenon in which one loses oneself in make-believe. Susanna Schellenberg says that the best explanation of imaginative immersion involves a radical revision to cognitive architecture. Instead of there being an attitude of belief and a distinct attitude of imagination, there should only be one attitude that represents a continuum between belief and imagination. -/- We argue otherwise. Although imaginative immersion is a crucial data point for theorizing about the imagination, positing a continuum (...) between belief and imagination is neither necessary nor sufficient for explaining the phenomenon. In addition, arguing against Schellenberg’s account reveals important but underappreciated lessons for theorizing about the imagination and for interpreting boxological representations of the mind. (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.
I lay out the framework for my theory of sensory imagination in “Imagining as a guide to possibility.” Sensory imagining involves mental imagery , and crucially, in describing the content of imagining, I distinguish between qualitative content and assigned content. Qualitative content derives from the mental image itself; for visual imaginings, it is what is “pictured.” For example, visually imagine the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers to win their first Super Bowl. You picture the greenness of the field (...) and the football’s brown oblong shape. Some of what you imagine isn’t explicitly pictured, however. That it is Sunday, that it is the Super Bowl: these facts are assigned. (shrink)
The point of this paper is to reveal a dogma in the ordinary conception of sensory imagination, and to suggest another way forward. The dogma springs from two main sources: a too close comparison of mental imagery to perceptual experience, and a too strong division between mental imagery and the traditional propositional attitudes (such as belief and desire). The result is an unworkable conception of the correctness conditions of sensory imaginings—one lacking any link between the conditions under which an (...) imagining aids human action and inference and the conditions under which it is veridical. The proposed solution is, first, to posit a variety of imaginative attitudes—akin to the traditional propositional attitudes—which have different associated correctness (or satisfaction) conditions. The second part of the solution is to allow for imaginings with “hybrid” contents, in the sense that both mental images and representations with language-like constituent structure contribute to the content of imaginings. (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)
The term ‘imagination’ may seem harmless. We talk about imagination all the time. Nonetheless, I will argue that we should treat it with suspicion. More precisely, I will argue that the explanatory power of the concept of imagination can be fully captured by a scientifically more respectable and more powerful concept, namely, the concept of mental imagery.
This paper surveys historical and recent philosophical discussions of the relations between imagination and creativity. In the first two sections, it covers two insufficiently studied analyses of the creative imagination, that of Kant and Sartre, respectively. The next section discusses imagination and its role in scientific discovery, with particular emphasis on the writings of Michael Polanyi, and on thought experiments and experimental design. The final section offers a brief discussion of some very recent work done on conceptual (...) relations between imagination and creativity. (shrink)
This essay argues that there are theoretical benefits to keeping distinct—more pervasively than the literature has done so far—the psychological states of imagining that p versus believing that in-the-story p, when it comes to cognition of fiction and other forms of narrative. Positing both in the minds of a story’s audience helps explain the full range of reactions characteristic of story consumption. This distinction also has interesting conceptual and explanatory dimensions that haven’t been carefully observed, and the two mental state (...) types make distinct contributions to generating emotional responses to stories. Finally, the differences between the mental states illuminate how a given story can be both shared with others and at the same time experienced as personal. (shrink)
Is imagination a source of knowledge? Timothy Williamson has recently argued that our imaginative capacities can yield knowledge of a variety of matters, spanning from everyday practical matters to logic and set theory. Furthermore, imagination for Williamson plays a similar epistemic role in cognitive processes that we would traditionally classify as either a priori or a posteriori, which he takes to indicate that the distinction itself is shallow and epistemologically fruitless. In this chapter, I aim to defend the (...) a priori-a posteriori distinction from Williamson’s challenge by questioning his account of imagination. I distinguish two notions of imagination at play in Williamson’s account – sensory vs. belief-like imagination – and show that both face empirical and normative issues. Sensory imagination seems neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. Whereas, belief-like imagination isn’t adequately disentangled from inference. Additionally, Williamson’s examples are ad hoc and don’t generalize. I conclude that Williamson’s case against the a priori-a posteriori distinction is unconvincing, and so is the thesis that imagination is an epistemic source. (shrink)
This paper presents an artifactual approach to models that also addresses their fictional features. It discusses first the imaginary accounts of models and fiction that set model descriptions apart from imagined-objects, concentrating on the latter :251–268, 2010; Frigg and Nguyen in The Monist 99:225–242, 2016; Godfrey-Smith in Biol Philos 21:725–740, 2006; Philos Stud 143:101–116, 2009). While the imaginary approaches accommodate surrogative reasoning as an important characteristic of scientific modeling, they simultaneously raise difficult questions concerning how the imagined entities are related (...) to actual representational tools, and coordinated among different scientists, and with real-world phenomena. The artifactual account focuses, in contrast, on the culturally established external representational tools that enable, embody, and extend scientific imagination and reasoning. While there are commonalities between models and fictions, it is argued that the focus should be on the fictional uses of models rather than considering models as fictions. (shrink)
Why would the work of the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinoza concern us today? How can Spinoza shed any light on contemporary thought? In this intriguing book, Moira Gatens and Genevieve Lloyd show us that in spite of or rather because of Spinoza's apparent strangeness, his philosophy can be a rich resource for cultural self-understanding in the present. _Collective Imaginings_ draws on recent re-assessments of the philosophy of Spinoza to develop new ways of conceptualising issues of freedom and difference. (...) This ground-breaking study will be invaluable reading to anyone wishing to gain a fresh perspective on Spinoza's thought. (shrink)
The terms "imagination'' and "imaginative'' can be readily applied to a profusion of attitudes, experiences, activities, and further phenomena. The heterogeneity of the things to which they're applied prompts the thoughts that the terms are polysemous, and that there is no single, coherent, fruitful conception of imagination to be had. Nonetheless, much recent work on imagination ascribes implicitly to a univocal way of thinking about imaginative phenomena: the imitation theory, according to which imaginative experiences imitate other experiences. (...) This approach is infelicitous. It issues in unhelpful descriptions of imaginative activities, experiences, and attitudes, and frustrates theorizing about imagination's applications and intensional characteristics. A better way of thinking about imagination is the lens theory, according to which the imagination is a set of ways to focus, refine, clarify or concentrate the matter of other experiences. This approach offers better characterizations of imaginative phenomena, and promises brighter theoretical illumination of them. (shrink)
A popular view has it that the mental representations underlying human pretense are not beliefs, but are “belief-like” in important ways. This view typically posits a distinctive cognitive attitude (a “DCA”) called “imagination” that is taken toward the propositions entertained during pretense, along with correspondingly distinct elements of cognitive architecture. This paper argues that the characteristics of pretense motivating such views of imagination can be explained without positing a DCA, or other cognitive architectural features beyond those regulating normal (...) belief and desire. On the present “Single Attitude” account of imagination, propositional imagining just is a form of believing. The Single Attitude account is also distinguished from “metarepresentational” accounts of pretense, which hold that both pretending and recognizing pretense in others require one to have concepts of mental states. It is argued, to the contrary, that pretending and recognizing pretense require neither a DCA nor possession of mental state concepts. (shrink)
What kind of mental state is episodic memory? I defend the claim that it is, in key part, imagining the past, where the imagining in question is experiential imagining. To remember a past episode is to experientially imagine how things were, in a way controlled by one’s past experience of that episode. Call this the Inclusion View. I motive this view by appeal both to patterns of compatibilities and incompatibilities between various states, and to phenomenology. The bulk of the paper (...) defends the account against four objections. Imagining and remembering seem to differ in whether they are active or passive, in the forms of singular content they involve, in their relations to observation and in their relations to belief. I argue that these differences can be accommodated, and some even explained, once we flesh out what else is involved in episodic memory, in addition to imagining the past. (shrink)
In this essay, part of a cluster of pieces on her concept of “lyric philosophy,” the author explores connections between imagination, understood as the capacity to think in images, and what Wittgenstein called “seeing-as.” In seeing-as, we focus on what Wittgenstein identifies as inner structural relations. This is a term that Max Wertheimer, one of the founders of gestalt philosophical psychology, used independently to describe how seeing-as involves seeing into a thing or situation. The present essay suggests that both (...) seeing-as and seeing-into depend on, and develop, sensitivity to ontological resonance, the attunement of things with one another, the deep analogies that constitute the underlying structure of the world. Imagination is thus fundamental to the good, or ethical, life. For its disciplined exercise relieves us of what Simone Weil calls the “Ring of Gyges”: the refusal to perceive significant analogies between ourselves and other beings, which is the root of injustice. (shrink)
We often have affective responses to fictional events. We feel afraid for Desdemona when Othello approaches her in a murderous rage. We feel disgust toward Iago for orchestrating this tragic event. What mental architecture could explain these affective responses? In this paper I consider the claim that the best explanation of our affective responses to fiction involves imaginative desires. Some theorists argue that accounts that do not invoke imaginative desires imply that consumers of fiction have irrational desires. I argue that (...) there are serious worries about imaginative desires that warrant skepticism about the adequacy of the account. Moreover, it is quite difficult to articulate general principles of rationality for desires, and even according to the most plausible of these possible principles, desires about fiction are not irrational. (shrink)
This paper investigates a capacity I call actuality-oriented imagining, by which we use sensory imagination in a way that's directed at representing the actual world. I argue that this kind of imagining is distinct from other, similar mental states in virtue of its distinctive content determination and success conditions. Actuality-oriented imagining is thus a distinctive cognitive capacity in its own right. Thinking about this capacity reveals that we should resist an intuitive tendency to think of the imagination’s primary (...) function or default mode as representing the non-actual or the fictional. Instead, the imagination is a cognitive faculty that often puts us in touch with the way things are in reality. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have identified certain fictional propositions with which one does not imaginatively engage, even where one is transparently intended by their authors to do so. One approach to explaining this categorizes it as 'resistance', that is, as deliberate failure to imagine that the relevant propositions are true; the phenomenon has become generally known (misleadingly) as 'the puzzle of imaginative resistance'. I argue that this identification is incorrect, and I dismiss several other explanations. I then propose a better one, that (...) in central cases of imaginative failure, the basis for the failure is the contingent incomprehensibility of the relevant propositions. Why the phenomenon is especially commonplace with respect to moral propositions is illuminated along the way. (shrink)
Safe-by-Design (SBD) frameworks for the development of emerging technologies have become an ever more popular means by which scholars argue that transformative emerging technologies can safely incorporate human values. One such popular SBD methodology is called Value Sensitive Design (VSD). A central tenet of this design methodology is to investigate stakeholder values and design those values into technologies during early stage research and development (R&D). To accomplish this, the VSD framework mandates that designers consult the philosophical and ethical literature to (...) best determine how to weigh moral trade-offs. However, the VSD framework also concedes the universalism of moral values, particularly the values of freedom, autonomy, equality trust and privacy justice. This paper argues that the VSD methodology, particularly applied to nano-bio-info-cogno (NBIC) technologies, has an insufficient grounding for the determination of moral values. As such, an exploration of the value-investigations of VSD are deconstructed to illustrate both its strengths and weaknesses. This paper also provides possible modalities for the strengthening of the VSD methodology, particularly through the application of moral imagination and how moral imagination exceed the boundaries of moral intuitions in the development of novel technologies. (shrink)
Abstract: This entry elucidates causal and constitutive roles that various forms of imagining play in human action. Imagination influences more kinds of action than just pretend play. I distinguish different senses of the terms “imagining” and “imagination”: imagistic imagining, propositional imagining, and constructive imagining. Each variety of imagining makes its own characteristic contributions to action. Imagistic imagining can structure bodily movement. Propositional imagining interacts with desires to motivate pretend play and mimetic expressive action. And constructive imagination generates (...) representations of possibilities and actions on the basis of which we choose what to do. [Version archived here is a penultimate draft.]. (shrink)
In this paper I return to the question of whether intuition is object-dependent. Kant’s account of the imagination appears to suggest that intuition is not object-dependent. On a recent proposal, however, the imagination is a faculty of merely inner intuition, the inner objects of which exist and are present in the way demanded by object-dependence views, such as Lucy Allais’s relational account. I argue against this proposal on both textual and philosophical grounds. It is inconsistent with what Kant (...) says about how the imagination functions and is ultimately incompatible with the relational account it is supposed to support. Kant’s account of the imagination remains a serious obstacle for the view that intuition is object-dependent. (shrink)
The (dis)continuism debate in the philosophy and cognitive science of memory concerns whether remembering is continuous with episodic future thought and episodic counterfactual thought in being a form of constructive imagining. I argue that settling that dispute will hinge on whether the memory traces (or “engrams”) that support remembering impose arational, perception-like constraints that are too strong for remembering to constitute a kind of constructive imagining. In exploring that question, I articulate two conceptions of memory traces—the replay theory and the (...) prop theory—that return conflicting answers to whether remembering is constructive imagining. The prop theory’s vision of traces is suggestive of continuism, while the replay theory’s is a natural fit for discontinuism. Which view of traces is in fact correct remains undetermined by current empirical work. Nevertheless, it may already be possible to reach a compromise in the (dis)continuism debate, through the development of a conciliatory continuist causal theory. This view—only outlined here—accepts the continuism-friendly prop theory of traces, while still requiring that genuine remembering fulfills an appropriate causation condition, as required by the kinds of causal theories of remembering typically favored by discontinuists. (shrink)
How are we to understand the phenomenology of imagining? Attempts to answer this question often invoke descriptors concerning the “vivacity” or “vividness” of our imaginative states. Not only are particular imaginings often phenomenologically compared and contrasted with other imaginings on grounds of how vivid they are, but such imaginings are also often compared and contrasted with perceptions and memories on similar grounds. Yet however natural it may be to use “vividness” and cognate terms in discussions of imagination, it does (...) not take much reflection to see that these terms are ill understood. In this paper, I review both some relevant empirical literature as well as the philosophical literature attempt to get a handle on what it could mean, in an imaginative context, to talk of vividness. As I suggest, this notion ultimately proves to be so problematic as to be philosophically untenable. (shrink)
One version of the Humean Theory of Motivation holds that all actions can be causally explained by reference to a belief–desire pair. Some have argued that pretense presents counter-examples to this principle, as pretense is instead causally explained by a belief-like imagining and a desire-like imagining. We argue against this claim by denying imagination the power of motivation. Still, we allow imagination a role in guiding action as a script . We generalize the script concept to show how (...) things besides imagination can occupy this same role in both pretense and non-pretense actions. The Humean Theory of Motivation should then be modified to cover this script role. (shrink)
_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)
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what (...) is possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (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)
It is widely believed, among philosophers of literature, that imagining contradictions is as easy as telling or reading a story with contradictory content. Italo Calvino’s The Nonexistent Knight, for instance, concerns a knight who performs many brave deeds, but who does not exist. Anything at all, they argue, can be true in a story, including contradictions and other impossibilia. While most will readily concede that we cannot objectually imagine contradictions, they nevertheless insist that we can propositionally imagine them, and regularly (...) do, simply by entertaining a text which prompts us to do so. I argue that this narrative does not bear scrutiny for two main reasons. First, because propositional imagining is beside the point, where truth in fiction is concerned; evaluating truth in fiction engages the cognitive architecture in ways that prohibit the mobilization of merely propositional imagination to that end. And second, because it is not obvious, given the strategies usually suggested, that we ever propositionally imagine contradictions in the first place—in fact, it seems we go out of our way to avoid directly imagining them. (shrink)
Actors, undercover investigators, and readers of fiction sometimes report “losing themselves” in the characters they imitate or read about. They speak of “taking on” or “assuming” the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings of someone else. I offer an account of this strange but familiar phenomenon—what I call imaginative transportation.
I explore the view that metaphysics is essentially imaginative. I argue that the central goal of metaphysics on this view is understanding, not truth. Metaphysics-as-essentially-imaginative provides novel answers to challenges to both the value and epistemic status of metaphysics.
We experience resistance when we are engaging with fictional works which present certain (for example, morally objectionable) claims. But in virtue of what properties do sentences trigger this ‘imaginative resistance’? I argue that while most accounts of imaginative resistance have looked for semantic properties in virtue of which sentences trigger it, this is unlikely to give us a coherent account, because imaginative resistance is a pragmatic phenomenon. It works in a way very similar to Paul Grice's widely analysed ‘conversational implicature’.
Chris Frith has argued that a loss of the sense of agency is central to schizophrenia. This suggests a connection between hallucinations and delusions on the one hand, and the misidentification of the subject’s imaginings as perceptions and beliefs on the other. In particular, understanding the mechanisms that underlie imagination may help us to explain the puzzling phenomena of thought insertion and withdrawal. Frith sometimes states his argument in terms of a loss of metarepresentational capacity in schizophrenia. I argue (...) that this formulation is unhelpful. (shrink)
The verb 'imagine' admits of perspectival modification: we can imagine things from above, from a distant point of view, or from the point of view of a Russian. But in such cases, there need be no person, either real or imagined, who is above or distant from what is imagined, or who has the point of view of a Russian. We call this the puzzle of perspectival displacement. This paper sets out the puzzle, shows how it does not just concern (...) language, but also states of imagining themselves, and then presents a solution. The solution draws on the idea that many reports of imagining conceal a distinctive kind of question, and such concealed questions have an extra argument place for (what we will call) an experiencer from whose perspective things are imagined. This solution has a range of advantages over other proposals in the literature, and helps to advance two debates concerning perspectival engagement with fiction. (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)
In this Element, we’ll explore the nature of both imagination and creative thinking in an effort to understand the relation between them and also to understand their role in the vast array of activities in which they are typically implicated, from art, music, and literature to technology, medicine, and science. Focusing on the contemporary philosophical literature, we will take up several interrelated questions: What is imagination, and how does it fit into the cognitive architecture of the mind? What (...) is creativity? Is imagination required for creativity? Is creativity required for imagination? Is a person simply born either imaginative or not (and likewise, either creative or not), or are imagination and creativity skills that can be cultivated? And finally, are imagination and creativity uniquely human capacities, or can they be had by nonbiological entities such as AI systems? (shrink)
The aim of this article is to expand the diet of examples considered in philosophical discussions of imagination and pretense, and to offer some preliminary observations about what we might learn about the nature of imagination as a result. The article presents a number of cases involving imaginative contagion: cases where merely imagining or pretending that P has effects that we would expect only perceiving or believing that P to have. Examples are offered that involve visual imagery, motor (...) imagery, fictional emotions, and social priming. It is suggested that imaginative contagion is a more prevalent phenomenon than has typically been recognized. (shrink)
I examine a range of popular solutions to the puzzle of imaginative resistance. According to each solution in this range, imaginative resistance occurs only when we are asked to imagine something that conflicts with what we believe. I show that imaginative resistance can occur without this sort of conflict, and so that every solution in the range under consideration fails. I end by suggesting a new explanation for imaginative resistance—the Import Solution—which succeeds where the other solutions considered fail.
Our ordinary conception of imagination takes it to be essentially a conscious phenomenon, and traditionally that’s how it had been treated in the philosophical literature. In fact, this claim had often been taken to be so obvious as not to need any argumentative support. But lately in the philosophical literature on imagination we see increasing support for the view that imagining need not occur consciously. In this paper, I examine the case for unconscious imagination. I’ll consider four (...) different arguments that we can find in the recent literature—three of which are based on cases and one that is based on considerations relating to action guidance. To my mind, none of these arguments is successful. I conclude that the case for postulating unconscious imagining has not yet been well motivated. (shrink)
Drawing on his own experiences of imagining, Edward S. Casey describes the essential forms that imagination assumes in everyday life. In a detailed analysis of the fundamental features of all imaginative experience, Casey shows imagining to be eidetically distinct from perceiving and defines it as a radically autonomous act, involving a characteristic freedom of mind. A new preface places Imagining within the context of current issues in philosophy and psychology.
Recent work on the imagination has stressed the epistemic role of imaginative experiences, notably in justifying modal beliefs. An immediate problem with this is that modal beliefs appear to admit of justification through the mere exercise of rational capacities. For instance, mastery of the concepts of pig, flying, and possibility should suffice to form a justified belief that flying pigs are possible, regardless of whether one imagines a flying pig. In this paper, I consider three ways to defend the (...) epistemic role of imagination in the face of this problem. One is that modal beliefs simply admit of justification by two separate sources: rational capacities and imaginative experience. Another is that while beliefs about logical or conceptual modality can be justified entirely by rational capacities, beliefs about metaphysical modality require imaginative experiences. The third, which I defend, is that imagination is relevant in the first instance not to modal knowledge but to modal understanding: even where imaginative experience is unnecessary for the justification of modal beliefs, it is indispensable for directly grasping certain modal facts. (shrink)