Institut Jean Nicod

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"Perspectival Imagination"


January, 26 (afternoon) - January, 27 (morning) 2015


Institut Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, Ecole normale supérieure, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris. Salle de réunion, RDC

Many philosophers have pointed out that at least one salient type of imagining is perspectival (i.e., imagination somehow involves a self or “point of view”). The correct analysis of the notion of perspectival imagining is crucial to an understanding of central issues in theory of morality, personal identity, mindreading, aesthetics and philosophy of language. Moreover, it can shed light on psychological phenomena outside the sphere of imagination, such as perception and memory. Still, the notion of perspectivalness is largely unclear. The aim of this workshop is to explore this issue, trying to specify the different senses in which imagination can be perspectival, and the peculiarities of perspectival imagining with respect to other mental states.

Organization: Margherita Arcangeli and Daniela Tagliafico




Monday 26th


15:30 – 16:30 Magdalena Balcerak Jackson (Zukunftskolleg, Konstanz Universität),
The Subjective Perspectivity of Imagination

Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:00 Daniela Tagliafico (FMSH/IJN, Paris),
Perspectives in the Cinematic Experience

According to Currie (2010), PoV shots cannot depict the character’s perceptual experience, but only the content of that experience. Once this content has been reproduced in the spectator’s mind, it becomes, again, an experience. In order to align her perception with the character’s, however, the viewer must accomplish a further act of imagination: she must imagine, of her perceptual experience, that it is an experience as of directly seeing the characters and the fictional events (rather than the actors and the pretended actions performed by them). I agree with Currie that the viewer’s mind is a kind of reproductive mechanism. Still, I argue that Currie is wrong in thinking that, in order to align the viewer’s experience with the character’s, we really need an act of the imagination. I will offer a different account of the content shared between the viewer and the character claiming that this content is neutral with respect to the ‘world’ to which the people and events seen belong, and that our knowledge about them rather enriches this barely imagistic content. Moreover, I will extend this account to every depictive shot and argue that it can explain also the peculiar phenomenology of the cinematic experience, meaning the impression of directly accessing the fictional world.

Tuesday 27th

09:30 – 10:30 Margherita Arcangeli (IJN, Paris) & Jérôme Dokic (EHESS & IJN, Paris),
Imaginative Perspectives in Action

There are at least two different ways of imagining an action. For instance an imaginer can either imagine eating a lemon (sour taste) or imagine herself eating a lemon (pinched face). In Vendler's terminology, while the former case belongs to subjective imagination, the latter involves objective imagination. Some questions arise: What is the ground of the distinction between subjective and objective imagination? What does it tell us about the nature of imagination? Does the distinction have anything to do with how the self (either the imaginer’s or the agent’s or both) is involved in our imaginings? In this paper we will present and criticize three proposals about the nature of the distinction between subjective and objective imagination. Our starting point will be the intuitive claim that subjective imagination exploits some mental perspective on the imagined action that can only be that of the agent herself. Eventually, a fourth proposal will be put forward and defended as the best way of explaining such intuitive claim.

10:30 – 11:30 Dorothea Debus (University of York),
Temporal Perspectives in Imagination: On the Nature and Value of Imagining the Future

Coffee Break

12:00 – 13:00 Kathleen Stock (University of Sussex, Brighton),
Imagining and Free Indirect Style

I’ll consider the phenomenon of free indirect style, and what imaginative response it calls for from the reader who encounters it in a fiction. 'Dual voice' theories, according to which free indirect style represents both character's and narrator's perspectives, are not new. However the suspicion sometimes has been that they require of the reader imagining which is either flat-out incoherent, or at least, difficult to reconcile with aesthetic uses of  the technique. Examination of what, plausibly, is actually required of the reader by free indirect style will allay these worries.  I'll argue that fictional sentences in free indirect style simultaneously instruct the reader to non-simultaneously a) imagine from the inside aspects of the perspective of the character concerned and b) imagine that a narrator reports such aspects, using free indirect style, from a third personal stance. Excluding either a) or b) to give a ‘single voice’ view distorts the phenomenon and reduces the aesthetic power of free indirect style.


Realized thank to: IEC- ENS "New Ideas in Philosophy of Mind and Language" and Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.