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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.

Keywords: automaticity; fictional emotions; imagination; imaginative contagion; mental imagery; motor imagery; pretense; pretense-reality boundary; priming; quarantining; visual imagination

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA , Email:

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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