Book Synopsis: Imagination will remain a mystery—we will not be able to explain imagination—until we can break it into parts we already understand. Explaining Imagination is a guidebook for doing just that, where the parts are other ordinary mental states like beliefs, desires, judgments, and decisions. In different combinations and contexts, these states constitute cases of imagining. This reductive approach to imagination is at direct odds with the current orthodoxy, according to which imagination is a sui generis mental state or process—one with its own inscrutable principles of operation. Explaining Imagination upends that view, showing how, on closer inspection, the imaginings at work in hypothetical reasoning, pretense, the enjoyment of fiction, and creativity are reducible to other familiar mental states—judgments, beliefs, desires, and decisions among them. Crisscrossing contemporary philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and aesthetics, Explaining Imagination argues that a clearer understanding of imagination is already well within reach.
Preface and Chapter 1 provide an overview of the project and its motivation, and numerous examples of how imagination can be reduced to other kinds of mental states.
Chapter 2 addresses metatheoretical questions about the nature of folk psychology, explanation, and reduction.
Chapters 3 and 4 discuss the place of mental imagery in imagination, and distinguish different kinds of imagination.
Chapters 5 and 6 discuss the relationship of imagining to conditional and hypothetical reasoning.
Chapters 7 and 8 concern pretense and its relation to imagination.
Chapters 9, 10, and 11 concern the role of imaginaiton in defining fiction and in explaining our emotional engagement with it.
Chapter 12 is about creativity and its relation to imagination