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Aristotelian Imagination

Aristotelian Imagination

(p.23) One Aristotelian Imagination
Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages
Michelle Karnes
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the cognitive work of imagination in the Neoplatonic tradition before turning to the Aristotelian one. It studies the philosophies of Avicenna, Averroes, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas, detailing the process by which imagination contributed to intellectual apprehension for each. It states that imagination functioned crucially within scholastic Aristotelianism to bridge the potentially gaping divide between sensory and intellectual cognition. The obvious challenge in this philosophy is to explain how the mind progresses from sensory to intellectual apprehension based on the same piece of sensory data. The senses know an object's material attributes, its size, color, and so on, but the intellect understands what the object is, that is, its essence or quiddity. Thus, details of the cognitive operations of imagination are given which shows that scholastic philosophers regularly discussed the imagination's cognitive work.

Keywords:   cognitive work, Neoplatonic tradition, imagination, Aristotelianism, intellectual cognition, sensory data, cognitive operations

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