Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning / Edition 1

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Overview

How to imagine the imagination is a topic that draws philosophers the way flowers draw honeybees. From Plato and Aristotle to Wittgenstein and Sartre, philosophers have talked and written about this most elusive of topics--that is, until contemporary analytic philosophy of mind developed. Perhaps it is the vast range of the topic that has scared off our contemporaries, ranging as it does from mental images to daydreams.

The guiding thread of this book is the distinction Colin McGinn draws between perception and imagination. Clearly, seeing an object is similar in certain respects to forming a mental image of it, but it is also different. McGinn shows what the differences are, arguing that imagination is a sui generis mental faculty. He goes on to discuss the nature of dreaming and madness, contending that these are primarily imaginative phenomena. In the second half of the book McGinn focuses on what he calls cognitive (as opposed to sensory) imagination, and investigates the role of imagination in logical reasoning, belief formation, the understanding of negation and possibility, and the comprehension of meaning. His overall claim is that imagination pervades our mental life, obeys its own distinctive principles, and merits much more attention.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books

[An] innovative little book...McGinn leads us to speculation far more stimulating, far more imaginative, than most of what passes for evolutionary psychology...It is rare and wonderful to end a book with a new idea.
— Ian Hacking

Science

Written in a lively style, Colin McGinn's Mindsight is a philosophical investigation of the faculty of imagination that will appeal to a wide audience...Mindsight will be essential reading for philosophers with an interest in the imagination...It will also amply reward any reader with an interest in the mechanisms of the mind.
— Phil Joyce

Choice

[A] splendid book about the imagination...This interesting and gracefully written book serves as a counterexample to the claim that analytic philosophy is dry, technical, and boring. Readers will find it enjoyable and should learn a lot from it.
— D. Haugen

Ram Neta
This book contains the most innovative and important work that Colin McGinn has done in the course of his distinguished career. It has the potential to be an extraordinarily influential book, and to create, almost single-handedly, a new area of systematic study in analytic philosophy of mind: the philosophy of the imagination. Work done in this new area could provide a foundation for work done in many other areas, including the epistemology of perception, the metaphysics of intentionality, the scientific understanding of dreaming, psychosis, and the creativity of our linguistic abilities.
Malcolm Budd
McGinn's book is first rate, manifesting all the qualities of incisive argument, original thought and clear, direct, lively, pithy writing for which he is celebrated.
New York Review of Books - Ian Hacking
[An] innovative little book...McGinn leads us to speculation far more stimulating, far more imaginative, than most of what passes for evolutionary psychology...It is rare and wonderful to end a book with a new idea.
Science - Phil Joyce
Written in a lively style, Colin McGinn's Mindsight is a philosophical investigation of the faculty of imagination that will appeal to a wide audience...Mindsight will be essential reading for philosophers with an interest in the imagination...It will also amply reward any reader with an interest in the mechanisms of the mind.
Choice - D. Haugen
[A] splendid book about the imagination...This interesting and gracefully written book serves as a counterexample to the claim that analytic philosophy is dry, technical, and boring. Readers will find it enjoyable and should learn a lot from it.
Science
Written in a lively style, Colin McGinn's Mindsight is a philosophical investigation of the faculty of imagination that will appeal to a wide audience...Mindsight will be essential reading for philosophers with an interest in the imagination...It will also amply reward any reader with an interest in the mechanisms of the mind.
— Phil Joyce
Choice
[A] splendid book about the imagination...This interesting and gracefully written book serves as a counterexample to the claim that analytic philosophy is dry, technical, and boring. Readers will find it enjoyable and should learn a lot from it.
— D. Haugen
New York Review of Books
[An] innovative little book...McGinn leads us to speculation far more stimulating, far more imaginative, than most of what passes for evolutionary psychology...It is rare and wonderful to end a book with a new idea.
— Ian Hacking
Library Journal
While most Romantic poets praised the imagination as the most important of human faculties, 20th-century analytic philosophy has lost sight of its tremendous importance, argues McGinn (Consciousness and Its Objects). In his brief apology, McGinn traces the similarities and differences between perceptions, dreams, beliefs, and the imagination while contrasting sensory and cognitive forms. Both dreams and madness ("the imagination gone awry") can be characterized as forms of the cognitive imagination, thus demonstrating, for McGinn, how deeply human understanding is affected by the imagination. Although the book purports to be for nonspecialists, McGinn's often technical prose will require some acquaintance with the philosophy of mind. There is little new in McGinn's often eloquent defense of the imagination, but large libraries that serve academic communities will want to purchase this book. Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674022478
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 0.46 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin McGinn is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami. He is the author of many books, including Consciousness and Its Objects and The Character of Mind.
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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Images and Percepts

2. The Mind's Eye

3. Imaginative Seeing

4. The Space of Imagery

5. The Picture Theory of Images

6. What Are Dreams?

7. Dream Belief

8. Delusion

9. The Imagination of the Child

10. Cognitive Imagination

11. Negation

12. Meaning

13. The Imagination Spectrum

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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