The Imaginative Agent

In Amy Kind & Peter Kung (ed.), Knowledge through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 85-109 (2016)
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Imagination contributes to human agency in ways that haven't been well understood. I argue here that pathways from imagistic imagining to emotional engagement support three important agential capacities: 1. bodily preparedness for potential events in one's nearby environment; 2. evaluation of potential future action; and 3. empathy-based moral appraisal. Importantly, however, the kind of pathway in question (I-C-E-C: imagining-categorization-emotion-conceptualization) also enables engagement with fiction. So human enchantment with fiction is a consequence of imaginative pathways that make us the kind of agents we are. Finally, I use this approach to address imaginative resistance and the paradox of fiction. [The version archived here is a penultimate draft. Please email me at [email protected] to receive a pdf of the final in accordance with fair use.]

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Neil Van Leeuwen
Georgia State University


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