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Philosophy of Psychology: Imagination


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to students enrolled in the MA Philosophy 120 EC, specialisation Philosophy of Psychology.


The aim of this seminar is to identify and critically discuss a number of unquestioned assumptions about the nature of imagination. The focus will be on the phenomenology of imagination, and more specifically on visual mental imagery. After discussing the received view of the relationship between perception, memory and imagination, we proceed to identify a number of normative assumptions about the phenomenology of imagination, which we will challenge by taking a closer look at a range of anomalies, including problems posed by misfiring and misattribution, ‘blind imagination’ or ‘aphantasia’ (Zeman 2010), ‘colour-blind imagination’, and historical reports on the phenomenology of imagination (e.g., Francis Galton and William James).

Course objectives

This course aims to engage students in advanced discussion of recent work in the philosophy and psychology of imagination, focusing on the phenomenology of imagination, and more specifically on visual mental imagery.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the distinction between perception, memory and imagination;

  • normative assumptions about the phenomenology of imagination;

  • a number of challenges to the received view of imagination.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • use philosophical sources, find and digest information, and review philosophical literature;

  • give an oral and written presentation of philosophical arguments;

  • write a clear argumentative essay about a topic covered in the seminar.


The timetable is available on the folowing website:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Attending lectures or seminars: 13 x 3 = 39 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature (800 pages): 171 hours

  • Preparation oral presentation: 20 hours

  • Preparation midterm paper proposal: 10 hours

  • Writing final paper: 40 hours

Assessment method


  • Oral presentations (30%)

  • Class discussions (10%)

  • Midterm paper proposal (10%)

  • Term paper (50%)


The final mark for the course is the weighted average of the several subtests (see above).


To be announced.

Inspection and feedback

Feedback will be offered on individual appointment.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • reading materials

  • assignments

Reading list

Required readings include:

  • Block, Ned (1995), On a confusion about a function of consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18, pp. 227-287.

  • Fulford, J., et al. (2018), The neural correlates of visual imagery vividness. An fMRI study and literature review. Cortex, 105 (Aug. 2018), pp. 26-40.

  • Galton, F. (1880), Statistics of mental imagery. Mind, 5, pp. 301-318.

  • James, W. (1890), Imagination. In: The Principles of Psychology, Vol. II ch. 18.

  • Kind, A. (Ed.) (2016), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination (London/New York: Routledge).

  • Zeman, A., et al. (2010), Loss of imagery phenomenology with intact visuo-spatial task performance: A case of ‘blind imagination’. Neuropsychologia, 48, pp. 145-155.

  • Other required readings will be made available through Blackboard.

Suggested readings include:

  • Brann, E.T.H. (1991), The World of the Imagination. Sum and Substance (Rowman & Littlefield).

  • Johnson, M. (1990), The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.J.M. Sleutels


Not applicable.