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Imagining at will

Meijns, S.C.A.; (2012) Imagining at will. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London).

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It is not infrequently claimed that imagining is essentially subject to the will. This is a strong claim which, if correct, would give a fundamental insight into the nature of a mental capacity that is often found to be so elusive. In this essay I will try to show how, and to what extent, this view is mistaken. The first part constructs an acceptable understanding of the three key notions involved in the central claim—imagination, will, and essential—which leads to a statement of how this claim should be understood. The second part turns to its assessment. Here examples are presented which any account of imagination as essentially subject to will must accommodate. As the results here are both positive and negative—both cases that do and cases that do not fit the criteria—they present a challenge for anyone maintaining that imagining is essentially subject to will. How, in the face of this, can a claim to essentiality be upheld? One response draws on fundamental points of contrast between imagination and an other capacity, namely perception. But while this approach is shown to be attractive, it is ultimately not successful as a defence. Following, two different moves to accommodate the counterexamples are considered. The first is that it must be accepted that imagination is essentially subject to will, in that it is essentially possible for imaginings to occur at will. The second is that the central claim must be accepted, once it is recognised that the notion of will involved is a more minimal one than is commonly considered. I argue that while each of these options succeeds in upholding the central claim, they only do so at a cost that ultimately makes them unattractive. Thus it is concluded that strictly, the claim that imagination is essentially subject to will must be rejected.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: Imagining at will
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1346474
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