Adaptive Imagination: Toward a Mythopoetic Cognitive Science

Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture 5 (2):1-32 (2021)
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A mythopoetic paradigm or perspective sees the world primarily as a dramatic story of competing personal intentions, rather than a system of objective impersonal laws. Asma argued that our contemporary imaginative cognition is evolutionarily conserved-it has structural and functional similarities to premodern Homo sapiens’s cognition. This article will outline the essential features of mythopoetic cognition or adaptive imagination, delineate the adaptive sociocultural advantages of mythopoetic cognition, explain the phylogenetic and ontogenetic mechanisms that give rise to human mythopoetic mind, show how mythopoetic cognition challeng­es contemporary trends in cognitive science and philosophy, and recognize and outline empirical approaches for a new cognitive science of the imagination.

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Stephen Asma
Columbia College Chicago


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