Philosophy Department Lecture Series

What We Can Learn From What We Can't Imagine
3/1/2013 4:30:00 PM - 3/1/2013 6:00:00 PM

Located: Key Auditorium (Roger Bacon 202)
Contact: Joshua Alexander

What We Can Learn From What We Can't Imagine

Jonathan Weinberg

Associate Professor of Philosophy

University of Arizona


Here is a tension in our understanding of how the imagination works: on the one hand, the imagination is a zone of creative freedom, whose purpose is at least in part to be untethered from facts and actualities; on the other hand, the imagination is an important epistemic tool, especially in philosophy, where our ability to dream up various scenarios in "thought-experiments" is meant to be taken as evidence for particular philosophical claims. How can these both be true? The answer, I will suggest, lies importantly in the ways in which our imagination is not totally free, but can sometimes be "blocked" from imagining particular propositions or sets of propositions. I will first present a naturalistic account of the imagination, and an explanation of this phenomenon of imaginative blockage. I will then provide an account of how these blocks can be exploited to provide an important window of knowledge on to the world at large – but I will also suggest some important limitations on that knowledge as well.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Key Auditorium


Sponsored by the Siena College Philosophy Department

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