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Re-enchanting the World: The Role of Imagination in Perception

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2010

K. Lennon*
University of Hull


This paper defends what the philosopher Merleau Ponty coins ‘the imaginary texture of the real’. It is suggested that the imagination is at work in the everyday world which we perceive, the world as it is for us. In defending this view a concept of the imagination is invoked which has both similarities with and differences from, our everyday notion. The everyday notion contrasts the imaginary and the real. The imaginary is tied to the fictional or the illusory. Here it will be suggested, following both Kant and Strawson, that there is a more fundamental working of the imagination, present in both perception and the constructions of fictions. What Kant and Strawson failed to make clear, however, was that the workings of the imagination within the perceived world, gives that world, an affective logic. The domain of affect is that of emotions, feelings and desire, and to claim such an affective logic in the world we experience, is to point out that it has salience and significance for us. Such salience suggests and demands the desiring and sometimes fearful responses we make to it; the shape of the perceived world echoed in the shapes our bodies take within it.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2010

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