Can imagination be unconscious?

Synthese 199 (5-6):13121-13141 (2021)
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Our ordinary conception of imagination takes it to be essentially a conscious phenomenon, and traditionally that’s how it had been treated in the philosophical literature. In fact, this claim had often been taken to be so obvious as not to need any argumentative support. But lately in the philosophical literature on imagination we see increasing support for the view that imagining need not occur consciously. In this paper, I examine the case for unconscious imagination. I’ll consider four different arguments that we can find in the recent literature—three of which are based on cases and one that is based on considerations relating to action guidance. To my mind, none of these arguments is successful. I conclude that the case for postulating unconscious imagining has not yet been well motivated.

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Amy Kind
Claremont McKenna College


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