Unpacking the Boxes: The Cognitive Theory of Imagination and Aesthetics

Kathleen Stock

in The Aesthetic Mind

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691517
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731815 | DOI:
Unpacking the Boxes: The Cognitive Theory of Imagination and Aesthetics

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Recently a new approach to the imagination has emerged, sometimes labelled the ‘cognitive theory’ of imagination. It is rooted in cognitive psychology, and presented as able to do much that other approaches cannot. In particular, it is said to offer new solutions to problems in aesthetics. In this paper, I’ll examine to what extent this is true. I will argue that, despite the way it is often presented, the theory does not attract any special credibility in virtue of its model of explanation; and, more seriously, that the case for two of its central tenets remains underdeveloped. I shall also argue that the purported explanatory benefits brought to one traditional problem in aesthetics by the theory are in fact limited. The threat to ‘traditional’ philosophy of imagination remains unproven.

Keywords: cognitive theory’ of imagination; cognitive psychology; belief box’ and ‘imagination box

Chapter.  7199 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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