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(p.1) Introduction
Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages
Michelle Karnes
University of Chicago Press

The power of imagination has often been viewed more negatively than positively, and it has inspired more trepidation than confidence. This is the reason why the Middle Ages was “hostile” to or “suspicious” or “distrustful” of imagination. This book establishes not only that medieval imagination had a unique authority, but that imaginative meditations on Christ were more ambitious and purposeful than scholarship on them has recognized. Focusing on the philosophical tradition in which imagination was most important, the Aristotelian tradition, and the body of medieval literature in which imagination was most prominent, this book focuses on medieval thought about imagination to link two bodies of writing. Imagination is familiar as an affective power, but not as a cognitive one. One is better positioned to appreciate the role that imagination occupies not only in gospel meditations, but in medieval culture more broadly by understanding its positive features along with its negative ones.

Keywords:   imagination, Middle Ages, hostile, suspicious, distrustful, medieval imagination, affective power

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