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On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science.

MacKisack M, Aldworth S, Macpherson F, Onians J, Winlove C, Zeman A - Front Psychol (2016)

Bottom Line: We focus on the neuroscientific literature's most commonly used task - imagining a concrete object - and, after sketching what is known of the neurobiological mechanisms involved, we examine the same basic act of imagining from the perspective of several key positions in the history of philosophy and psychology.We present positions that, firstly, contextualize and inform the neuroscientific account, and secondly, pose conceptual and methodological challenges to the scientific analysis of imagery.We conclude by reflecting on the intellectual history of visualization in the light of contemporary science, and the extent to which such science may resolve long-standing theoretical debates.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Exeter Medical School Exeter, UK.

ABSTRACT
The past 25 years have seen a rapid growth of knowledge about brain mechanisms involved in visual mental imagery. These advances have largely been made independently of the long history of philosophical - and even psychological - reckoning with imagery and its parent concept 'imagination'. We suggest that the view from these empirical findings can be widened by an appreciation of imagination's intellectual history, and we seek to show how that history both created the conditions for - and presents challenges to - the scientific endeavor. We focus on the neuroscientific literature's most commonly used task - imagining a concrete object - and, after sketching what is known of the neurobiological mechanisms involved, we examine the same basic act of imagining from the perspective of several key positions in the history of philosophy and psychology. We present positions that, firstly, contextualize and inform the neuroscientific account, and secondly, pose conceptual and methodological challenges to the scientific analysis of imagery. We conclude by reflecting on the intellectual history of visualization in the light of contemporary science, and the extent to which such science may resolve long-standing theoretical debates.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

The Oculus Imaginationis (The Eye of the Imagination) as found on the title page of Tractatus One, Section Two, Portion Three of Robert Fludd’s Ars Memoriae (Fludd, 1617).
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Figure 2: The Oculus Imaginationis (The Eye of the Imagination) as found on the title page of Tractatus One, Section Two, Portion Three of Robert Fludd’s Ars Memoriae (Fludd, 1617).

Mentions: Together, these developments urged a model of imagining as a corporeal activity. The inner senses, like the outer senses, have bodily organs – and “the power of imagination has its action impeded by damage to the organ [i.e., the brain] … as happens to the phrenetic [literally, an individual with an inflamed brain]” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c23–24). The imagination’s corporeal nature makes it epistemologically crucial, because the intellect has no organ, and so must employ phantasms for understanding to take place. “[E]veryone can experience within oneself,” claims Aquinas, “that when one tries to understand something, one forms certain phantasms for oneself by way of examples, in which one examines, as it were, the thing one is striving to understand. And so it is that when we wish to make someone else understand a thing, we propose examples to him, through which he can form phantasms for himself in order to understand” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c37–43). Indeed, a damaged faculty of imagination impedes the person “from actually understanding even the things he has already acquired knowledge of” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c34–36). Aquinas’s recognition both of the biological basis of mental states (albeit excluding intellectual conception), and the role of imagery in cognition, make his contribution to our history an important one; we will pursue it further in our concluding remarks (Figure 2).


On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science.

MacKisack M, Aldworth S, Macpherson F, Onians J, Winlove C, Zeman A - Front Psychol (2016)

The Oculus Imaginationis (The Eye of the Imagination) as found on the title page of Tractatus One, Section Two, Portion Three of Robert Fludd’s Ars Memoriae (Fludd, 1617).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4835444&req=5

Figure 2: The Oculus Imaginationis (The Eye of the Imagination) as found on the title page of Tractatus One, Section Two, Portion Three of Robert Fludd’s Ars Memoriae (Fludd, 1617).
Mentions: Together, these developments urged a model of imagining as a corporeal activity. The inner senses, like the outer senses, have bodily organs – and “the power of imagination has its action impeded by damage to the organ [i.e., the brain] … as happens to the phrenetic [literally, an individual with an inflamed brain]” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c23–24). The imagination’s corporeal nature makes it epistemologically crucial, because the intellect has no organ, and so must employ phantasms for understanding to take place. “[E]veryone can experience within oneself,” claims Aquinas, “that when one tries to understand something, one forms certain phantasms for oneself by way of examples, in which one examines, as it were, the thing one is striving to understand. And so it is that when we wish to make someone else understand a thing, we propose examples to him, through which he can form phantasms for himself in order to understand” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c37–43). Indeed, a damaged faculty of imagination impedes the person “from actually understanding even the things he has already acquired knowledge of” (Aquinas, 1920, 84.7 c34–36). Aquinas’s recognition both of the biological basis of mental states (albeit excluding intellectual conception), and the role of imagery in cognition, make his contribution to our history an important one; we will pursue it further in our concluding remarks (Figure 2).

Bottom Line: We focus on the neuroscientific literature's most commonly used task - imagining a concrete object - and, after sketching what is known of the neurobiological mechanisms involved, we examine the same basic act of imagining from the perspective of several key positions in the history of philosophy and psychology.We present positions that, firstly, contextualize and inform the neuroscientific account, and secondly, pose conceptual and methodological challenges to the scientific analysis of imagery.We conclude by reflecting on the intellectual history of visualization in the light of contemporary science, and the extent to which such science may resolve long-standing theoretical debates.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: University of Exeter Medical School Exeter, UK.

ABSTRACT
The past 25 years have seen a rapid growth of knowledge about brain mechanisms involved in visual mental imagery. These advances have largely been made independently of the long history of philosophical - and even psychological - reckoning with imagery and its parent concept 'imagination'. We suggest that the view from these empirical findings can be widened by an appreciation of imagination's intellectual history, and we seek to show how that history both created the conditions for - and presents challenges to - the scientific endeavor. We focus on the neuroscientific literature's most commonly used task - imagining a concrete object - and, after sketching what is known of the neurobiological mechanisms involved, we examine the same basic act of imagining from the perspective of several key positions in the history of philosophy and psychology. We present positions that, firstly, contextualize and inform the neuroscientific account, and secondly, pose conceptual and methodological challenges to the scientific analysis of imagery. We conclude by reflecting on the intellectual history of visualization in the light of contemporary science, and the extent to which such science may resolve long-standing theoretical debates.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus