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Abstract: Remembering a cat sleeping (specifically, recollecting the way the cat looked), perceiving (specifically, seeing) a cat sleeping, and imagining (specifically, visualizing) a cat sleeping are of course importantly different. Nonetheless, from the first-person perspective they are palpably alike. Our first question is
Abstract: Interest in imagination dates back to Plato and Aristotle, but full-length works have been devoted to it only relatively recently by Sartre, McKellar, Furlong, Casey, Johnson, Warnock, Brann, and others. Despite their length and variety, however, these current theories take overly narrow views of this complex phenomenon. (1) Their definitions of “imagination” neglect the multiplicity of its meanings and tend to focus narrowly on the power of imaging alone (which produces images and imagery). But imagination in the fullest, most encompassing sense centers instead on creativity, which involves both imaging and reasoning powers. (2) Current accounts of the operations of imagination narrowly construe it in fixed, immutable terms. But it’s instead a dynamic, evolving synergy of its psychological roots (images and symbols) and sociobiological roots (cultures and instincts). This synergy has transformed the roles of images and symbols in imagination (as Vygotsky, Goody, etc. note). For example, in the shift from mytheopic to scientific imagination, literacy and formal education fostered abstract symbolic thinking (reason), which differs from mytheopic thinking based on richly concrete associations (imagery). The result was “more than cool reason”, but experimental studies (by Perkins, Clement, etc.) show that it’s also more than just dreamy imagery. It’s a dynamic synergy of the two that has transformed both. (3) Current evaluations of imagination’s potentials are also narrow. They tend to focus on its role in mental life while ignoring social and political life. Also, they tend to follow romantic and existentialist customs of extolling imagination’s virtues without soberly critiquing its limitations. Again, they ignore the synergy of psychological, sociological and biological forces that shape mental and social evolution, and promote and constrain imagination in complex ways. For example, Sartre surreally asks us to choose our own nature with an imagination emancipated from institutional and instinctual strictures. Yet making intelligible choices depends on these strictures. (4) In conclusion, current theories define imagination narrowly in terms of imaging, they describe its operations in fixed and immutable terms, and they evaluate its potentials without examining the full interplay of forces shaping it. These shortcomings are remedied by a broader perspective that defines imagination more adequately and comprehensively, and that recognizes it’s complex roots, dynamic operations, and evolving potentials.
Abstract: 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
Abstract: 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
Abstract: To the best of my knowledge, with the exception of Galton's original work (1880, 1883), Sommer's brief case study (1978), and Faw's (1997, 2009) articles, this is the only really substantial discussion of the phenomenon of non-brain-damaged "non-imagers" available anywhere.
Abstract: The principal temptation toward substance dualisms, or otherwise incorporating a question begging homunculus into our psychologies, arises not from the problem of consciousness in general, nor from the problem of intentionality, but from the question of our awareness and understanding of our own mental contents, and the control of the deliberate, conscious thinking in which we employ them. Dennett has called this "Hume's problem". Cognitivist philosophers have generally either denied the experiential reality of thought, as did the Behaviorists, or have taken an implicitly epiphenomenalist stance, a form of dualism. Some sort of mental duality may indeed be required to meet this problem, but not one that is metaphysical or question begging. I argue that it can be solved in the light of Paivio's "Dual Coding" theory of mental representation. This theory, which is strikingly simple and intuitive (perhaps too much so to have caught the imagination of philosophers) has demonstrated impressive empirical power and scope. It posits two distinct systems of potentially conscious representations in the human mind: mental imagery and verbal representation (which is not to be confused with 'propositional' or "mentalese" representation). I defend, on conceptual grounds, Paivio's assertion of precisely two codes against interpretations which would either multiply image codes to match sense modes, or collapse the two, admittedly interacting, systems into one. On this basis I argue that the inference that a conscious agent would be needed to read such mental representations and to manipulate them in the light of their contents can be pre-empted by an account of how the two systems interact, each registering, affecting and being affected by developing associative processes within the other
Abstract: A comprehensive theory of the structure and cognitive function of the human imagination, and its relationship to perceptual experience, is developed, largely through a critique of the account propounded in Colin McGinn's Mindsight. McGinn eschews the highly deflationary (and unilluminating) views of imagination common amongst analytical philosophers, but fails to develop his own account satisfactorily because (owing to a scientifically outmoded understanding of visual perception) he draws an excessively sharp, qualitative distinction between imagination and perception (following Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others), and because of his fatally flawed, empirically ungrounded conception of hallucination. In fact, however, an understanding of perception informed by modern visual science will enable us to unify our accounts of perception, mental imagery, dreaming, hallucination, creativity, and other aspects of imagination within a single coherent theoretical framework