Phenomenology, Imagination and Interdisciplinary Research

  • Julia Jansen


The concept of imagination is notoriously ambiguous.2 Thus one must be cautious not to use ‘imagination’ as a placeholder for diverse phenomena and processes that perhaps have not much more in common than that they are difficult to assign to some other, better defined domain, such as perception, conceptual thought, or artistic production. However, this challenge also comes with great opportunities: the fecundity and openness of ‘imagination’ appeal to researchers from different disciplines with different approaches and questions, and it draws together fields of enquiry that are initially considered far apart. Hence, arguably, the field of imagination is particularly poised for interdisciplinary enquiry. In the section on Imagination in Interdisciplinary Research, I will talk about some of the issues that have already entered that field of interdisciplinary inquiry.

This field becomes considerably larger if we also use the term ‘imagination’ for basic activities which go beyond the mere processing of perceptual data but are still considered integral to perception (e.g. because they occur in the absence of perceptual stimuli). In this respect, Hume’s and Kant’s accounts in particular are still reflected in contemporary research, albeit in ways which are not always explicit (Lohmar 1998). I will say something about this in the section on Imagination in Interdisciplinary Research too.

Before I turn to the matter of interdisciplinary research, however, I will first, in a section on Imagination in Phenomenology, sketch a general phenomenological position on imagination. I will mainly focus on Husserl’s account of phenomenology because it provides a solid reference point for understanding the context from which phenomenological contributions to interdisciplinary research on imagination are put forward.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Interdisciplinary Research Mental Image Mental Imagery Aesthetic Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Jansen
    • 1
  1. 1.University CollegeCorkIreland

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