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Remembering From the Outside: Point of View in Visual Imagery

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Theories of sensory imagination often make a distinction between first-personal or ‘subjective’ imagery, in which one views an imagined scene from-the-inside, and third-personal or ‘objective’ imagery, in which one sees oneself from-the-outside.[1] For example, if you are imagining swimming you may feel the cold and pull of the water, and perhaps visualise the ocean floor. This is the subjective case. According to Zeno Vendler, subjective imaginings involve “the representation of the experiences I would have if I were in a certain situation” (1979: 163). In contrast, in the objective case, imagining (yourself) swimming may involve visualising yourself from-the-outside, bobbing up and down in the foamy sea. Do we really have two different types of imaginings here? Vendler thinks not. He claims that third-personal imagery is nothing but a special case of first-personal imagery: objective imagination reduces to subjective imagination. The reason for this, so the argument goes, is that objective imagery involves the experience of seeing. And, because this experience of seeing is a subjective experience, then the objective reduces to the subjective. Imagining oneself from-the-outside is really a case of imagining seeing oneself, and this imagining seeing is inherently subjective. This way of reducing objective imagination to the subjective entails an occupied point of view within the imaginative project. Here is how François Recanati describes such objective imagination: “the subject imagines seeing himself swim in the water. In that special case the subject plays two roles: he is not only the experiencer, the person from whose point of view the scene is seen, but he is also an object in the scene. This duality enables the subject to look at himself (herself) from an external, third person point of view” (2007: 196). The duality that Recanati envisages here is most accurately thought of as a duality within the imaginative project. Note that it is the. . .

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News source: Philosophy of Mind – The Brains Blog

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