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Imagination, Non-existence, Impossibility

  • Graham Priest
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Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 22)

Abstract

Imagination is one of the most important human abilities. It is deployed in the most mundane parts of human life, such as deciding what to have for breakfast. But it is also at the core of all creative acts, of the kind performed by scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, novelists, musicians, political reformers, visionaries. And it does not take long to see that it is puzzling. I can clearly imagine things that do not exist, and never will exist, such as Anna Karenina, and the Taj Mahal in London. But if I kick something, it has to be there to be kicked. How can I imagine something if it is not there to be imagined? Even worse, the things I imagine may even be impossible. A mathematician imagines that a certain equation has a solution, and then proves that there can be no such thing: it is a mathematical impossibility. How can I imagine something when it is impossible for it to exist?

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham Priest
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of PhilosophyCUNY Graduate CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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