On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science

MacKisack, Matthew, Aldworth, Susan, Macpherson, Fiona, Onians, John, Winlove, Crawford and Zeman, Adam (2016) On Picturing a Candle: The Prehistory of Imagery Science. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. ISSN 1664-1078

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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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2016 MacKisack, Aldworth, Macpherson, Onians, Winlove and Zeman. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Uncontrolled Keywords: visual imagery,fmri,imagination,philosophy of mind,history of philosophy, history of psychology
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Art History and World Art Studies
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Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2016 13:00
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2020 23:43
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/59593
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00515

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