Institut Jean Nicod

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Mental imagery


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Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne


Jérôme Dokic






After initially studying history of philosophy (focusing on John Locke and later Jerry Fodor), I gradually became interested in philosophy of science and cognitive science. This is what led me to my current research on mental imagery, which requires an interdisciplinary approach drawing from philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience and aesthetics.

Since mental images are often described as being picture-like and compared to external pictures, I try to determine what they have in common with artifacts such as drawings, paintings, photographs, etc. To answer this question, it is necessary to notice that the expressions ’’mental imagery’’ and ’’mental images’’ have been used to characterize at least two different types of phenomena. On the one hand, ’’mental imagery’’ is often used in cognitive science to refer to certain mental processes that can be described as perceptual simulation. On the other hand, ’’mental images’’ are taken to be be representations of a certain format, whether we describe it as pictural or analog.

After fleshing out those different meanings and the challenges they pose, I put forward what I take to be a unified definition of mental imagery. It thus becomes possible to ask if this definition dovetails with one of the accounts of pictures that were recently developed in aesthetics.