Are Theories of Imagery Theories of Imagination? An Active Perception Approach to Conscious Mental Content.

Thomas, Nigel J. T. (1999) Are Theories of Imagery Theories of Imagination? An Active Perception Approach to Conscious Mental Content. [Journal (Paginated)]

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Can theories of mental imagery, conscious mental contents, developed within cognitive science throw light on the obscure (but culturally very significant) concept of imagination? Three extant views of mental imagery are considered: quasi-pictorial, description, and perceptual activity theories. The first two face serious theoretical and empirical difficulties. The third is (for historically contingent reasons) little known, theoretically underdeveloped, and empirically untried, but has real explanatory potential. It rejects the "traditional" symbolic computational view of mental contents, but is compatible with recent *situated cognition* and *active vision* approaches in robotics. This theory is developed and elucidated. Three related key aspects of imagination (non-discursiveness, creativity, and *seeing as*) raise difficulties for the other theories. Perceptual activity theory presents imagery as non-discursive and relates it closely to *seeing as*. It is thus well placed to be the basis for a general theory of imagination and its role in creative thought.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Additional Information:Related work available from my web site at
Keywords:imagery, imagination, consciousness, mental representation, perception, creativity
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
Psychology > Perceptual Cognitive Psychology
ID Code:5018
Deposited By: Thomas, Nigel James Treharne
Deposited On:01 Aug 2006
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:56

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