No matter how long I may look at an image, I shall never find
anything in it but what I put there. It is in this fact that we
find the distinction between an image and a perception.' -
L Imagination" was published in 1936 when Jean-Paul Sartre was
thirty years old. Long out of print, this is the first English
translation in many years. "The Imagination" is Sartre s first full
philosophical work, presenting some of the basic arguments
concerning phenomenology, consciousness and intentionality that
were to later appear in his master works and be so influential in
the course of twentieth-century philosophy.
Sartre begins by criticising philosophical theories of the
imagination, particularly those of Descartes, Leibniz and Hume,
before establishing his central thesis. Imagination does not
involve the perception of mental images in any literal sense,
Sartre argues, yet reveals some of the fundamental capacities of
consciousness. He then reviews psychological theories of the
imagination, including a fascinating discussion of the work of
Henri Bergson. Sartre argues that the classical conception is
fundamentally flawed because it begins by conceiving of the
imagination as being like perception and then seeks, in vain, to
re-establish the difference between the two. Sartre concludes with
an important chapter on Husserl s theory of the imagination which,
despite sharing the flaws of earlier approaches, signals a new
phenomenological way forward in understanding the imagination.
"The Imagination" is essential reading for anyone interested in
the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, phenomenology, and the history
of twentieth-century philosophy.
This new translation includes a helpful historical and
philosophical introduction by Kenneth Williford and David Rudrauf.
Also included is Maurice Merleau-Ponty s important review of "L
Imagination "upon its publication in French in 1936.
Translated by Kenneth Williford and David Rudrauf.
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