Recent Developments in the Philosophy of Imagination?

A post by Shen-yi Liao.

The introductory post to this blog tells a brief history of the philosophy of imagination. From Aristotle’s time to ours, the imagination has been asked to explain mindreading, pretense, engagement with the arts, modal epistemology, etc. And, not surprisingly, there remain little agreement about its nature.

In this post, I want to zoom in the timeline and ask: What has changed in the philosophical study of imagination in the last 10 years or so? To operationalize the question, you might take a look at the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on imagination and ask: What has changed since that snapshot? What are the entry points from philosophical subfields or cognate areas? What are some general tendencies? Which new discussions have emerged? Which discussions seem to be maturing, or even becoming stale?

This post is more of a bleg than a blog. I’ll offer my own—no doubt esoteric—answers. But my primary interest is in learning from the community’s response.

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Damage and Imagination

A post by Adam Morton

Our ability to treat one another well, or even decently, depends on our capacities to imagine, simulate, sympathize, empathize, and intuit other people. These are a wide array of different, similar, and overlapping, capacities, essential to human social life. I shall lump them all together as imagining (but see). We imagine what it is like for one another, and we act accordingly. We tend not to give people presents they will hate, or to spare people experiences they will enjoy.

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The Imagination and The Intellect

A post by Magdalena Balcerak Jackson

On first glance, the intellect and the imagination have little in common. The purest expression of the intellect appears to consist in explicit and formal reasoning that utilizes our understanding of concepts and our mastery of the rules of logic, and that abstracts away from how anything seems and feels. The purest expression of the imagination can be found in free play and artistic expression that utilize our ability to vividly and imagistically represent worlds and situations very much unlike the ones we are confined to in everyday life. But intuitive associations as well as philosophical orthodoxies can be misleading. Indeed, the more general idea that there is an intimate connection between experience and rationality can be illuminated by looking at how imagination makes certain things intelligible to us in ways that matter for making better decisions about what to think, what to do and how to treat others.

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Episodic Imagination and Episodic Memory: What's the Difference?

A post by Kourken Michaelian.

What is the difference between episodic imagination and episodic memory? At first glance, imagining events and remembering events would seem to be highly similar processes. Philosophers of memory have, however, usually tried to draw a sharp distinction between them. Indeed, one natural understanding of traditional philosophical theories of remembering treats them precisely as attempts to specify the difference between imagination and memory. It may be, however, that traditional theorists have been barking up the wrong tree—that there is, after all, no deep difference between imagination and memory.

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Welcome to the Junkyard

A post by Amy Kind.

Speaking at a session at the 2015 meeting of the Pacific Division APA, Noel Carroll referred to imagination as “the junkyard of the mind” – a place where everything gets thrown in.  Need something to explain our engagement with fiction?  Enter imagination.   What accounts for our ability to access modal truths?  Again, enter imagination.  Pretense.  Mindreading.  Empathy.  Thought experiments. Creativity.  Delusions.  Dreams.  Metaphors.  Sure, let’s throw all of those onto the imaginative scrap heap as well – a heap that seems to be getting higher and higher.

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