Imagining Objects and Imagining Experiences

Author: Noordhof, Paul

Source: Mind & Language, Volume 17, Number 4, September 2002 , pp. 426-455(30)

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Abstract:

A number of philosophers have argued in favour of the Dependency Thesis: if a subject sensorily imagines an F then he or she sensorily imagines from the inside perceptually experiencing an F in the imaginary world. They claim that it explains certain important features of imaginative experience, in brief: the fact that it is perspectival, the fact that it does not involve presentation of sensory qualities and the fact that mental images can serve a number of different imaginings. I argue that the Dependency Thesis is false and that, in any event, it does not have the explanatory credentials claimed for it. Some of the features of imaginative experience are incorrectly specified, namely the absence of presentation of sensory qualities. With a more precise idea of what we need to explain, I argue that the explanation should proceed by noting that imagination and perception have phenomenally similar contents and that this is to be explained in terms of the similar kinds of representations in play. I trace the consequences of my discussion for disjunctivist theories of perception, Berkeleian Idealism and the characterisation of knowing what an experience is like.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0017.00206

Affiliations: University of Nottingham paul.noordhof@nottingham.ac.uk

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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