Imagination is celebrated as our vehicle for escape from the mundane here and now. It transports us to distant lands of magic and make-believe. It provides us with diversions during boring meetings or long bus rides. It enables creation of new things that the world has never seen. Yet the focus on imagination as a means of escape from the real world minimizes the fact that imagination seems also to furnish us with knowledge about it. Imagination seems an essential component in our endeavor to learn about the world in which we live-whether we're planning for the future, aiming to understand other people, or figuring out whether two puzzle pieces fit together. But how can the same mental power that allows us to escape the world as it currently is also inform us about the world as it currently is? The ten original essays in Knowledge Through Imagination, along with a substantial introduction by the editors, grapple with this neglected question; in doing so, they present a diverse array of positions ranging from cautious optimism to deep-seated pessimism.
Many of the essays proceed by considering specific domains of inquiry where imagination is often employed-from the navigation of our immediate environment, to the prediction of our own and other peoples' behavior, to the investigation of ethical truth. Other essays assess the prospects for knowledge through imagination from a more general perspective, looking at issues of cognitive architecture and basic rationality. Blending perspectives from philosophy of mind, cognitive science, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics, Knowledge Through Imagination sheds new light on the epistemic role of imagination.
Amy Kind is Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. Although she has broad interests in the philosophy of mind, most of her research centers on issues relating to phenomenal consciousness and issues relating to the imagination. Her work has appeared in journals such as Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and The Philosophical Quarterly. She has edited the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination. Peter Kung is Associate Professor of Philosophy and former Department Chair at Pomona College. He has held visiting or teaching appointments at New York University, Stanford University, Claremont Graduate University, and the National University of Singapore. His research centers on two areas: the philosophy of mind, in particular thought experiments; and epistemology, where he focuses on the limits of skeptical challenges and the proper treatment of probabilistic reasons. He has published a number of articles in leading peer-reviewed journals.
PART ONE: TAXONOMICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL APPROACHES; PART TWO: OPTIMISTIC APPROACHES; PART THREE: SKEPTICAL APPROACHES