The Dennes Room

Philosophy 290-4

Spring 2021

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-4 Graduate Seminar: Imagination and its Morals Bailey W 4-6 TBA

This course is concerned with the following two-part question: What is imagination, and what roles does imagination play in our lives as agents, practical reasoners, aspirants to virtue, and selves that care and are cared for? We will begin with an exploration of what imagination actually is, drawing on both contemporary and historical sources. We will consider questions such as: What is the relation between imagination and perception? What are the objects of imagination? Does imagining something sometimes or always involve mentally picturing that thing? Does it really make sense to speak of imagination as a single faculty or activity? Once we have a better sense of the principal puzzles and possibilities concerning imagination’s nature, we will advance to questions about its import. Questions we will take up in this latter section of the course include: in what sense, if any, is our self-understanding (or even self-constitution) dependent upon imagination? What is the relationship between practical reason and imagination? Does moral understanding or motivation require imagination? We will also ask about the morality of imagination: are there things it is morally bad or wrong to imagine or fantasize about, and if so, why? Readings range across philosophy of mind, epistemology, moral psychology, philosophy of art, and political philosophy. Requirements: regular participation, weekly posting of questions, brief term paper prospectus, term paper.