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Aphantasia, imagination and dreaming

Whiteley, Cecily (2020) Aphantasia, imagination and dreaming. Philosophical Studies. ISSN 0031-8116

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11098-020-01526-8

Abstract

Aphantasia is a recently discovered disorder characterised by the total incapacity to generate visual forms of mental imagery. This paper proposes that aphantasia raises important theoretical concerns for the ongoing debate in the philosophy and sci- ence of consciousness over the nature of dreams. Recent studies of aphantasia and its neurobehavioral correlates reveal that the ma- jority of aphantasics, whilst unable to produce visual imagery while awake, nevertheless retain the capacity to experience rich visual dreams. This finding constitutes a novel explanandum for theories of dreaming. Specifically, I argue that the recent dream reports of aphantasics constitute an empirical challenge to the emerging family of views which claim that dreams are essentially imaginative ex- periences, constitutively involving the kinds of mental imagery which aphantasics, ex-hypothesi, lack. After presenting this challenge in the context of Jonathan Ichikawa’s recent arguments for this view, I argue that this empirical challenge may be overcome if the ima- gination theorist abandons Ichikawa’s account of dreaming in favour of a modified version. This involves the claim that dreams are essentially inactive and constitutively involve non voluntary forms of imagination. I conclude with a suggestion for further research which can test the viability of this alternative hypothesis, and move the debate forward.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.springer.com/journal/11098
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2020 09:57
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:03
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/106276

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