Perceptual and Imaginative Conception: The Distinction Reid Missed

In Todd Buras & Rebecca Copenhaver (eds.), Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press. pp. 52-74 (2015)
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The present investigation concerns Reid’s explanation of how objects (be they real or nonexistent) are conceived. This paper shows that there is a deep-rooted tension in Reid’s understanding of conception: although the type of conception employed in perception is closely related to the one employed in imagination, three fundamental features distinguish perceptual conception (as the former will be referred to throughout this paper) from imaginative conception (as the latter will be called henceforth). These features would have been ascribed by Reid himself to conception as involved in perception, but not to conception as involved in imagination. He should have recognized them as marking the former as a different kind from the latter, and he should not have hastily lumped perceptual and imaginative conceptions together.

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M. Folescu
University of Missouri, Columbia


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