A World without Imagination? Consequences of Aphantasia for an Existential Account of Self
Mélissa Fox-Muraton

October 17, 2019, 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Husserl Archives, KU Leuven, KU Leuven

Husserl Archives, Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
LEUVEN 3000
Belgium

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You are cordially invited to a talk presented by Dr Mélissa Fox-Muraton (ESC Clermont/Université Clermont Auvergne, France). The event is free of charge and no registration is required!

ABSTRACT: Aphantasia is a spectrum disorder, affecting the ability of otherwise healthy individuals to form voluntary or conscious mental images, and in some cases also any form of mental sensory representation in conscious and/or unconscious states. Although only discovered in 2010, it is now estimated that 2-3% of the population may have aphantasia—otherwise termed, the absence of a “mind’s eye,” an aspect of conscious experience which so many people take for granted as part of their general way of experiencing the world. Aphantasia, although it does not imply the absence of all forms of imagination, such as perspective taking and narrative construction, is quite literally a disorder affecting individual’s capacity to form and work with images, and thus the absence, as Jean-Paul Sartre has described it in his phenomenology of the image, of a certain way in which consciousness engages with the image-object, distinct both from perception and thought. In this paper, we will consider the consequences of aphantasia for an existential account of self. As Kierkegaard writes: “Every human being possesses to a higher or lower degree a capability called the power of imagination [Indbildningskraften], a power that is the first condition for what becomes of a person.” But aphantasia suggests precisely that some, perhaps many, individuals, do not possess this faculty Kierkegaard and other thinkers find so essential to selfhood and personal and moral development. If this is the case, then we need to rethink the role of certain features of human experience, notably the roles of memory and projection with regard to self-experience and self-transformation. We will argue that aphantasia requires that we rethink strong accounts of selfhood and identity, as well as moral theories which rely on the role of imagination as an essential feature of self-construction and moral responsibility. Given that aphantasia is a normal human condition, we will contend that any theory which fails to take this condition into account fails to account for the reality of some human beings’ basic world experience.

Contact person: Wojciech Kaftanski (wojciech.kaftanski@kuleuven.be)

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#Kierkegaard, Imagination, Aphantasia