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Imagination: A Very Short Introduction

Imagination: A Very Short Introduction

Imagination: A Very Short Introduction explores imagination as a cognitive power and an essential dimension of human flourishing, demonstrating how imagination plays multiple roles in human cognition and shapes humanity in profound ways. Examining philosophical, evolutionary, and literary perspectives on imagination, the author shows how this facility, while potentially distorting, both frees us from immediate reality and enriches our sense of it, making possible our experience of a meaningful world. Long regarded by philosophers as an elusive and mysterious capacity of the human mind, imagination has been the subject of extraordinary ambivalence, described as both dangerous and divine, as merely peripheral to rationality and as essential to all thinking. Drawing on philosophy, aesthetics, literary and cognitive theory as well as the human sciences, this book engages the dramatic conceptual history of imagination together with contemporary explanations of its role in cognition to explain its importance in everyday life as well as the exquisite creativity of the arts, scientific discovery, and invention. Engaging examples from cave paintings to modern painting, performance art to pop art, physics to phenomenology, technological inventions to literary worlds, the Nazca geoglyphs to dramatic theatre, poetry, and jazz improvisation, the author illuminates with clarity and vision the philosophy of imagination and the stakes of its involvement in human thinking.