Hume and the Recreative Imagination

Rivista di Estetica 53:25-54 (2013)
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Two particular approaches to the imagination as a recreative capacity have recently gained prominence: neo-Humeanism and simulationatism. According to neo-Humeanism, imaginings have cognitions as a constitutive part of their representational contents; while simulationalists maintain that, in imagining, we essentially simulate the occurrence of certain cognitive states. Two other kinds of constitutive dependence, that figure regularly in the debate, concern the necessity of cogni­tions for, respectively, the causation and the semantic power of imaginings. In what follows, I dis­cuss each of these kinds of dependence and assess how useful they are for spelling out the concep­tion of imaginings as recreations of cognitions. A particular focus will thereby be on the details of Hume's original conception of imaginings as causal reproductions (or ‘copies’) of cog­nitions, as well as on the influence of his view on contemporary approaches to the topic which replace Hume's causal understanding of the representational link between imaginings and cognitions with either an intentional or a relational understanding. My conclusion will be that, if imaginings should be taken to be recreations at all, then they should be taken to be representational recreations. That is, neo-Humeanism turns out to be the most plausible way of understanding imaginings as re­creations of cognitions.
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