Philosophy of the Imagination

Our Review of the Week features philosopher's take on the power of the imagination

The life of imagination : revealing and making the world

Gosetti-Ferencei, Jennifer Anna. Columbia, 2018
344p bibl index, 9780231189088 $65.00, 9780231548168 $64.99

For Gosetti-Ferencei (German, Johns Hopkins Univ.), imagination is a pervasive mental phenomenon that not only informs much of everyday cognitive experience but also enables people to move beyond the mundane to exceptional scientific discovery and artistic creation. Avoiding the reductionist tendency common in philosophical analyses of mental phenomena, Gosetti-Ferencei offers a broad-ranging account of imagination that casts it not as a single phenomenon or skill but rather as an aspect of mental life that involves multiple overlapping modes operating at multiple levels. Gosetti-Ferencei has the rare ability to draw effectively from both the Continental tradition and the analytic tradition. Her discussion moves seamlessly from historical treatments of imagination in Descartes and Kant and the employment of imagination by Coleridge and other Romantic poets to the development of the imaginary in Freud, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty and the contemporary analyses of imagination on offer in Anglo-American philosophy of mind and aesthetics. Neuroscientific and cognitive science literature inform the discussion throughout. Though there is much of interest here for specialists, the book should nonetheless be accessible to readers coming from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates and above; general readers.
Reviewer: A. Kind, Claremont McKenna College
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Psychology
Choice Issue: Jul 2019