Thinking about fiction

A blog about fiction and imagination, from a philosopher

 

"If one loves stories, then one would naturally love the story of the story" Lorrie Moore

Mental imagery and the 'multiple use' thesis

Mental imagery and the 'multiple use' thesis

This post is a slight departure from the norm, in that its main purpose is to alert you to an academic paper of mine -  'Mental images, imagining, and the 'Multiple Use Thesis' - which I've decided to publish online here.

This paper has been in "preparation" for 10 years and counting. It has been aired at conferences in Sheffield, York, Tuebingen, and Claremont, CA. Many of my longsuffering philosophical friends have seen a draft over the years, or heard me moan about its latest adventures. It's been cited by Nick Wiltsher in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and by Paul Noordhof in ongoing work. It's had a R&R ("Revise and resubmit') followed by rejection from Mind and Language, then rejections from Mind, Philosophers' Imprint, Philosophical StudiesPhilosophical Quarterly, and the European Journal of Philosophy. It has seen the best of referees, it has seen the worst of referees (special shout out to Phil Studies), and it has seen no referees whatsoever (thanks Phil Imprint, don't spend that $20 all at once). And  currently (well, until I press 'post' here)  it has an R&R from Ergo, to which I've never managed to get around to responding. My heart just isn't in it any more. I think it's a good and provocative paper but I don't have it in me to make the changes required by the latest set of referees (to whom I'm nonetheless very grateful - it's not you, it's me). So I'm setting it free. Fly little paper, fly...

If you'd like to cite it, which is obviously encouraged wildly, please see here for how to cite a blog post (http://www.citethisforme.com/cite/blog) Please also drop me a line to let me know, if you wouldn't mind.

Finally, here is the abstract to whet the appetites of those who like this sort of thing:

My topic is a certain view about mental images: namely, the ‘Multiple Use Thesis’. On this view, at least some mental image-types, individuated in terms of the sum total of their representational content, are potentially multifunctional: a given mental image-type, individuated as indicated, can serve in a variety of imaginative-event-types. As such, the presence of an image is insufficient to individuate the content of those imagination-events in which it may feature. This picture is argued for, or (more usually) just assumed to be true, by Christopher Peacocke, Michael Martin, Paul Noordhof, Bernard Williams, Alan White, and Tyler Burge. It is also presupposed by more recent authors on imagination such as Amy Kind, Peter Kung and Neil Van Leeuwen. I reject various arguments for the Multiple Use Thesis, and conclude that instead we should endorse SINGLE: a single image-type, individuated in terms of the sum total of its intrinsic representational content, can serve in only one imagination event-type, whose content coincides exactly with its own, and is wholly determined by it. Plausibility aside, the interest of this thesis is also in its iconoclasm, as well as the challenge it poses for the diverse theories that rest on the truth of the Multiple Use Thesis.

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