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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

Table of “iconophile” positions, that provide the foundations for neuroscientific engagement with mental imagery, and “iconophobic” positions, that challenge it.
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Figure 3: Table of “iconophile” positions, that provide the foundations for neuroscientific engagement with mental imagery, and “iconophobic” positions, that challenge it.

Mentions: Hacker and Bennett’s analysis of cognitive neuroscience’s claims includes those made about notions of the imagination: its relation with creativity, perception, belief, and the place of ‘mental imagery’ in its conceptualization. The points made there are largely recognizable from Ryle and Wittgenstein: mental images are a major source of conceptual confusion because, contrary to common parlance, we do not in fact “have” them (because they are not things that can be possessed); they need not be involved in imagining; and, reiterating their refutation of the mereological fallacy, the brain does not ‘have’ imagination. The same logic undermines foundational psychological treatments of mental imagery. Francis Galton’s (1880) questionnaire on visualizing and other allied faculties is predicated, say Hacker and Bennett, on the false belief that mental images are objects ‘in’ the mind, available for inspection. Shepard and Metzler’s (1971) mental rotation task, similarly, does not stand as ‘evidence’ for mental imagery. For Hacker and Bennett, the problem is not only that such evidence for mental imagery is indirect – mental images are not being measured or detected in any way – but that indirect evidence is no evidence at all. Neuroscientific claims to identify the neural concomitants of mental states are similarly dismissed: such concomitants are ‘merely’ inductive evidence. The only criterion for whether someone has a visual image of something, Bennett and Hacker conclude, reiterating Wittgenstein’s claim of first-person authority in respect of mental images, “is that he says that he has and can say how he visualizes what he imagines” (Bennett and Hacker, 2003, p. 180) (Figure 3).


On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science.

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

Table of “iconophile” positions, that provide the foundations for neuroscientific engagement with mental imagery, and “iconophobic” positions, that challenge it.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 3: Table of “iconophile” positions, that provide the foundations for neuroscientific engagement with mental imagery, and “iconophobic” positions, that challenge it.
Mentions: Hacker and Bennett’s analysis of cognitive neuroscience’s claims includes those made about notions of the imagination: its relation with creativity, perception, belief, and the place of ‘mental imagery’ in its conceptualization. The points made there are largely recognizable from Ryle and Wittgenstein: mental images are a major source of conceptual confusion because, contrary to common parlance, we do not in fact “have” them (because they are not things that can be possessed); they need not be involved in imagining; and, reiterating their refutation of the mereological fallacy, the brain does not ‘have’ imagination. The same logic undermines foundational psychological treatments of mental imagery. Francis Galton’s (1880) questionnaire on visualizing and other allied faculties is predicated, say Hacker and Bennett, on the false belief that mental images are objects ‘in’ the mind, available for inspection. Shepard and Metzler’s (1971) mental rotation task, similarly, does not stand as ‘evidence’ for mental imagery. For Hacker and Bennett, the problem is not only that such evidence for mental imagery is indirect – mental images are not being measured or detected in any way – but that indirect evidence is no evidence at all. Neuroscientific claims to identify the neural concomitants of mental states are similarly dismissed: such concomitants are ‘merely’ inductive evidence. The only criterion for whether someone has a visual image of something, Bennett and Hacker conclude, reiterating Wittgenstein’s claim of first-person authority in respect of mental images, “is that he says that he has and can say how he visualizes what he imagines” (Bennett and Hacker, 2003, p. 180) (Figure 3).

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