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Camp, Elisabeth, , . Two Varieties of Literary Imagination: Metaphor, Fiction, and Thought Experiments
2009, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 33 (1):107-130.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Recently, philosophers have discovered that they have a lot to learn from, or at least to ponder about, fiction. Many metaphysicians are attracted to fiction as a model for our talk about purported objects and properties, such as numbers, morality, and possible worlds, without embracing a robust Platonist ontology. In addition, a growing group of philosophers of mind are interested in the implications of our engagement with fiction for our understanding of the mind and emotions: If I don’t believe that Anna Karenina exists, can I really pity her, or hope or desire that she extricate herself from her tragic situation? And why is there no ‘morality fiction,’ analogous to science fiction? I suspect that philosophers have been especially comfortable thinking about fiction because it seems, at least prima facie, to employ the imagination in a way that conforms to a standard model of the mind. Specifically, contemporary philosophers tend to think of imagination as a form of mental pretense. Mental pretense can take two main forms: a cognitive attitude of supposing a set of propositions to be true (make-believe) or else an experiential state of imaging a scenario as if it were before one (imaging). Much of our pretense intertwines the cognitive and experiential modalities, of course. But both share a crucial common feature: all of one’s imaginative effort is invested in pretending that certain contents obtain. In this sense, we can understand imagination as the ‘offline’ simulation of actual beliefs and perceptions (and perhaps other attitudes as well), where we analyze these in the normal way, as states individuated by their attitude and representational content. While I share the burgeoning interest in fiction, I want to suggest that we also have a lot to learn from poetry, and in particular from poetic metaphor. I will argue..

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Chung-Yuan Chang, , . Immeasurable potentialities of creativity
2011, In Chung-Yuan Chang (ed.). Creativity and Taoism: A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry. London & Philadelphia: Singing Dragon.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: A study of the Taoist (Daoist) concept of creativity as a non-instrumental process in which all things create themselves. Chang argues for the foundational place of this understanding of self-emergent creativity in the aesthetics of Chinese art.

Comment: Can be used as both an introduction to Daoism and to Chinese aesthetics.

Related reading:

  • Laozi, Tao Te Ching. D. C. Lau, trans. New York: Addison Wesley, 2000.
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Friend, Stacie, , . Imagining Fact and Fiction
2008, In Kathleen Stock & Katherine Thomsen-Jones (eds.), New Waves in Aesthetics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 150-169.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: I argue that there is no interpretation of imagining or make-believe that designates a response distinctive to fiction as opposed to nonfiction. The class of works that invite makebelieve, however it is determined, is substantially broader than our ordinary concept of fiction would allow. The question is whether there is a way of understanding the sort of imagining involved in our engagement with fictions that would carve out a narrower category. I consider various possible interpretations and argue in each case that works of nonfiction may invite the same imaginative responses as fiction, just as works of fiction may invite the same cognitive responses as nonfiction. These considerations cast doubt on definitions of fiction that appeal to make-believe, and the attempt to save the theory by restricting it to individual statements rather than whole works is unsatisfactory. A different approach to classification is required if we wish to understand the significance of the distinction.

Comment: This text would be good as further reading for students who are interested in writing a coursework essay on the topic. It is suitable in a philosophy of fiction module.

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Gendler, Tamar, , . Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology
2010, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This volume consists of fourteen chapters that focus on a trio of interrelated themes. First: what are the powers and limits of appeals to intuition in supporting or refuting various sorts of claims? Second: what are the cognitive consequences of engaging with content that is represented as imaginary or otherwise unreal? Third: what are the implications of these issues for the methodology of philosophy more generally? These themes are explored in a variety of cases, including thought experiments in science and philosophy, early childhood pretense, self?deception, cognitive and emotional engagement with fiction, mental and motor imagery, automatic and habitual behavior, and social categorization.

Comment: The book contains fourteen previously published essays. The first six essays are on thought experiments and the use of the imagination therein. Mainly, these essays take up the tasks of explaining how thought experiments produce novel beliefs and explaining whether and how thought experiments justify beliefs. Those are good papers for teachings on methodology of philosophy and intuitions. The next six essays are on imagination in general: its nature, its role in motivating action and producing emotion, and its relations to other mental states. It covers a range of topics including the paradox of fictional emotions and the nature of self-deception, the puzzle of imaginative resistance, the problem of the precipice. The topic of the last two essays is a mental state called “alief” which are highly relevant materials for teachings on mental states in action, implicit bias and etc.

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Kind, Amy, , . The Puzzle of Imaginative Desire
2011, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89(3): 421-439.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: The puzzle of imaginative desire arises from the difficulty of accounting for the surprising behaviour of desire in imaginative activities such as our engagement with fiction and our games of pretend. Several philosophers have recently attempted to solve this puzzle by introducing a class of novel mental states – what they call desire-like imaginings or i-desires. In this paper, I argue that we should reject the i-desire solution to the puzzle of imaginative desire. The introduction of i-desires is both ontologically profligate and unnecessary, and, most importantly, fails to make sense of what we are doing in the imaginative contexts in question.

Comment: Kind provides good arguments against accepting the existence of “i-desires”. This article would be useful to teach in the context of philosophy of mind, as well as in philosophy of art and fiction, as it engages with some of the issues surrounding “make-believe”.

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Spaulding, Shannon, , . Imagination, Desire, and Rationality
2015, Journal of Philosophy 112 (9):457-476 (2015)
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: We often have affective responses to fictional events. We feel afraid for Desdemona when Othello approaches her in a murderous rage. We feel disgust toward Iago for orchestrating this tragic event. What mental architecture could explain these affective responses? In this paper I consider the claim that the best explanation of our affective responses to fiction involves imaginative desires. Some theorists argue that accounts that do not invoke imaginative desires imply that consumers of fiction have irrational desires. I argue that there are serious worries about imaginative desires that warrant skepticism about the adequacy of the account. Moreover, it is quite difficult to articulate general principles of rationality for desires, and even according to the most plausible of these possible principles, desires about fiction are not irrational.

Comment: This would function well as a required reading in a week on why we have emotional reactions to fiction, probably in a course for senior undergraduate students. It is suitable for a philosophy of fiction module.

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Stock, Kathleen, , . Fantasy, imagination, and film
2009, British Journal of Aesthetics 49 (4):357-369.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: In his article ‘Fantasy, Imagination and the Screen’ , Roger Scruton offers an account of fantasy, arguing that it is directed away from reality in some important sense, and that cinema is its natural representational medium. I address certain problems with Scruton’s basic account, thereby producing a signifi cantly amended version, though one that owes a great debt to his. I explain why, as he says, much fantasy is signifi cantly directed away from reality; and conclude with some brief remarks about.

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Stock, Kathleen, , . Imagining and Fiction: Some Issues
2013, Philosophy Compass 8: 887-96
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, I survey in some depth three issues arising from the connection between imagination and fiction: (i) whether fiction can be defined as such in terms of its prescribing imagining; (ii) whether imagining in response to fiction is de se, or de re, or both; (iii) the phenomenon of ‘imaginative resistance’ and various explanations for it.

Comment: Very introductory text which would be suitable for undergraduates in a philosophy of fiction module.

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