Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This work is an attempt to provide an understanding of the nature of what we call 'having a mental image','visualising', 'seeing in the mind's eye' or, more techically, 'imaging'. It does so by analysing the concept of imaging and its relation to other concepts. My analysis is centred around Gilbert Ryle's discussion of imagination in 'The Concept of Mind'.
Perhaps the most important single factor in an analysis of imaging is to understand the relation between imaging or seeing in the mind's eye and actually seeing. I have argued along with Ryle that this relation is not such that when we see something in the mind's eye we are actually seeing a mental image. This I have called Ryle's negative thesis. I am concerned to show that mental images are not eXisting entities along similar lines to pictures, snapshots or even after-images. I have argued in support of Ryle's position on the basis that mental images do not have representational qualities and cannot be identified independently of what they are mental images of.
Chapters 2 and 5 try to establish the relation between seeing in the mind's eye and seeing itself. Both involve the utilisation of our knowledge or belief as to what the thing seen or imagined looks like.
As regards Ryle's positive thesis, I have examined his claim that having a mental image of Helvellyn is equivalent to imagining that one is seeing Helvellyn in front of one's nose, by dividing the concept of imagination into six senses. I have shown that Ryle's arguments can be seeh as treating imaging as falling under the propositional entertainment sense, and this is untenable. The explanation of imaging in terms of a sophisticated operation similar to pretending which Ryle gives is adequate only up to the point when we wish to ask, what activity is the person who is having a mental image engaged in? Imaging often involves doing something and Ryle's explanation that it is an achievement verb is not adequate here. If there is an activity it must be a mental activity.
Palmer, Harold Ian, "Ryle's Concept of Imagination" (1975). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4592.
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