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Imagination and the Distorting Power of Emotion

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In real life, emotions can distort practical reasoning, typically in ways that it is difficult to realise at the time, or to envisage and plan for in advance. This feature of real life emotional experience raises difficulties for imagining such experiences through centrally imagining, or imagining 'from the inside'. I argue instead for the important psychological role played by another kind of imagining: imagining from an external perspective. This external perspective can draw on the dramatic irony involved in imagining these typical cases, where one knows outside the scope of the imagining what one does not know as part of the content of what one imagines: namely, that the imagined emotion is distorting one's reasoning. Moreover, imagining from an external perspective allows one to evaluate the imagined events in a way that imagining from the inside does not.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: 2005-01-01

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