Imagining

Yesterday I read about a phenomenologist’s effort to position imagination with respect to other cognitive functions.  The argument was that although imagination is thin, which I think means fragile or fleeting, it is autonomous, independent of other functions. That would seem to make it critical to cognitive functioning as a whole, rather than something peripheral, which is the way it has appeared, at least to those outside philosophy.  I read it  in Ihde’s book Experimental Phenomenology, first published in 1976!  Casey insists that imagination may be, but is not necessarily creative, and further makes a close link between imagination and freedom.  It sounds like Flusser’s claim that digital technology could potentially expand, enhance freedom.  But only potentially.  The kicker is that it must be used with imagination, as a means of inventing variations.

Ihde objects to the idea that freedom is achieved only through imagining, saying that there may be variations in perception.  Using his careful instructions for perceiving the famous Necker cube — shown here — in a variety of ways, a reader/viewer does in fact arrive at initially startling new perceptions.

Author: Nancy Roth