Aesthetics Discussion Group: The Representational Character of Belief-like Imaginings

Alon Chasid, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Abstract: This paper seeks to uncover certain intrinsic features of imaginings that render them belief-like. Assuming that imaginings are representational states, I begin by clarifying the sense in which imaginings, in purporting to represent a world, are like beliefs. I show that an ‘imaginative project’—the overall mental activity we engage in when we imagine—includes, in addition to imaginings, a different kind of mental state, whose role is to posit, to some degree of determinacy, an imaginary world in which the imagined propositions are true or false. I call this mental state ‘design-assumption.’ Distinguishing between imaginings and design-assumptions, I argue that when we engage in an imaginative project, we make a specific design-assumption according to which if we imagine a proposition, then it is true in the imaginary world that we believe, from the first-person perspective, that proposition. I then show that positing these imaginary beliefs allows us to explain how a version of Moore’s paradox applies to imaginings. I close by discussing various implications of my account of imagining.