Faculty Book: Jonathan Gilmore

Jonathan Gilmore
Apt Imaginings: Feelings for Fictions and Other Creatures of the Mind
(Oxford University Press, 2020)

IMAGE OF BOOK: Apt Imaginings: Feelings for Fictions and Other Creatures of the MindDo people’s responses to works of art track their responses to the real world? Specifically, do emotions, cognitions, and desires elicited by fictional stories and visual imaginings differ — in their constitution or the norms that govern them — from those based on beliefs and perceptions? A commitment to one or another answer to this question animates reflection on the nature of art, from Plato’s banishment of dramatic poetry from his ideal state to theories in cognitive science of the role of imagination in our mental life. This book defends a thesis of normative discontinuity: Although the doxastic representations, emotions, desires, and evaluations that one forms in engaging with a fiction depend on much of the same psychological and neurophysiological machinery one employs in navigating the real world, the norms that govern the appropriateness of those attitudes toward what is fictional or imagined can be contrary to the norms that govern their fit to analogous things in the real world. In short, this book argues that the functions of art ground, on occasion, a kind of autonomy of the imagination: What would be the wrong way to feel or think about states of affairs in the real world could be the right way to feel or think when those states of affairs are only make-believe.

The book was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Monograph Prize from the American Society for Aesthetics (ASA). 

Gilmore is a professor of philosophy at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Purchase this book.

Submitted on: FEB 1, 2020

Category: Faculty Books | Philosophy