Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Knowledge Through Imagination$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Amy Kind and Peter Kung

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716808

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716808.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 21 November 2018

Knowing by Imagining

Knowing by Imagining

(p.113) 4 Knowing by Imagining
Knowledge Through Imagination

Timothy Williamson

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the common picture which paints imagining and knowing as opposites is misguided. Rather, imagination plays a key role in knowledge acquisition. Reflection on our ancestors reveals various ways in which they would have found imagination useful. When voluntarily solving problems—can I leap across this river, or do I need to take the long walk around?—or when preparing for dangers—are there wolves in the forest?—imagination would have played a key role. These reflections also suggest that imagination is both selective and reality-oriented; in the right conditions, imagination can thus confer knowledge. Denying this claim comes at a higher cost than we might have realized. Since there are important cognitive similarities between reasoning hypothetically with imagining and reasoning actually with new information, skepticism about the former would imply skepticism about the latter.

Keywords:   imagination, knowledge, evolution, conditionals, hypothetical reasoning

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .