Imagination – Art, Science and Social World

by Ilona Błocian (Volume editor) Dmitry Prokudin (Volume editor)
©2020 Edited Collection 208 Pages


The book contains analyses and interpretations of multidimensional perspectives in philosophical, economical and psychological research on imagination. The authors analyse Russian (N. Bierdiajew) and French philosophy and anthropology (G. Bachelard, G. Durand), German conceptions (I. Kant's, F. Baader's, F. Schiller 's or Heideggerian interpretations) of the role of imagination in art, science and sociopolitical domains. Image and imagination play the main role in the contemporary social world. It is investigated by psychology, sociology and political sciences, and many subdisciplines of philosophy have their own traditions in approaches to image and imagination problem. The authors try to integrate the results of these research efforts.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Philosophical Significance of Image and Imagination – Introduction
  • I. About the Significance of the Imagination
  • Mythologies of Politics, History and Current Events
  • The Right to the Impossible: Man, Philosophy and Imagination
  • II. Imagination as a Tool of Philosophy
  • Exercising of the Imagination
  • Imagination as a Philosophical Tool: Intuition, Thought Experiments and Conceivability
  • III. Imagination – Society – Politics
  • What Kind of Cinema Develops Luce Irigaray’s Ideas of Love and of Democracy?
  • Symbolic Language of Style as an Aesthetic Bridge between Thinking, Art, and Culture: Style and Imagination
  • Document, Fact, Image: Towards the Un-Politics of Documentary Representation
  • Risk Analysis in the Process of Image Formation of the Eurasian Economic Union
  • The Political Power of the Images: Revolutionary Imaginarium
  • IV. Imagination and Image in German Philosophy
  • Imagination and Genius – Schelling and Transcendental Constellations of Post-Kantian Idealism
  • Image-Cognition-Art: Integrity or Contradiction?
  • V. Grasps of Imagery in French Philosophy
  • Gaston Bachelard: Anthropology of the Image
  • The Three Grasps of Unconsciousnesses – Freud, Bachelard, Deleuze and Guattari
  • Series Index

List of Contributors

Jean-Jacques Wunenburger

Institut de Recherches Philosophiques, Lyon

Jan Krasicki

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Leszek Kleszcz

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wroclaw

Kamil Cekiera

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wroclaw

Maria Kostyszak

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Elena Ustiugova

Saint-Petersburg State University

Olga Davydova

Saint-Petersburg State University


Elena Stetsko

St. Petersburg State University

Karol Morawski

Karkonosze College in Jelenia Góra

Leon Miodoński

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Beata Trochimska-Kubacka

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Kamila Morawska

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Ilona Błocian

Institute of Philosophy

University of Wrocław

Jan Krasicki, Ilona Błocian

Philosophical Significance of Image and Imagination – Introduction

Contemporary research and reflection on the image requires going beyond the areas of aesthetics and history of art, because images, imagery and susceptibility to visual messages have anthropological, political, ethical, ontological and epistemological aspects. The phenomena associated with them have a particularly strong meaning for understanding the “power of images” – including affective, mnestic, liminal, cognitive load, their participation in the processes of psychic development, shaping the sense of individual and collective identity, their value-creating aspects, image relation to logos (e.g. “iconic epistems”) and the phenomena of subordination to images, their potential to exert influence in the political and social domains. All these are phenomena of the highest importance not only for philosophical research, but in the domain of social phenomena. The significance of research is potentially very large – the definition of the philosophical aspects of contemporary research on the image, the trails of the philosophy of images foundation and thus their deeper understanding in contemporary discourse, their influence and creation of the phenomena of the modern world. The novelty of the intended research is related to the following, still unrecognized.

For man the natural environment is a living one, while living in it, man transcends it and creates his own human world. The “world of man” is the proper place for his growth and personal development – secondary “artificial” man-made “symbolic-imaging” and “mental-imaginary” world. The category “world” belongs both to the being who creates images and to the being subjected to their “power”. Man exists in the universe of images, as well as “speaks” through symbols. He is able to create and use symbolic language. For the understanding of man and his world, it becomes necessary to respond to reality and to man himself through the objectified sphere of images, ideas and concepts about him. All these constitute the consecutive spheres of his being and self-understanding. Because the condition of human existence consists in self-agility, i.e., man is a subject who asks about himself and at the same time he is an object of research, he cannot stand in a way “face to face” neither towards himself nor towards the surrounding reality and must “objectify” both himself and his reality in images, language and speech. In the understanding of the world and of himself, man refers to the dimension of ontogenesis and ←9 | 10→phylogenesis, both to the inheritance of his individual history and to the process of species’ development, the collective sphere of images, cultural and religious representations, the anthropological matrix of behaviors and attitudes in his “being-in-world”. Man is a “worldly” being by his essence: his thinking is not only thinking “about the world” but “thinking-in-the-world”, and images and symbols are an integral and inseparable part of this world and its various dimensions: social, cultural and political. From antiquity to modern times, the notion of image has been a subject of interest for philosophy. However, it has not always been enough understood how important they are. In Plato’s grasp, images become the “roots” of thoughts. However, it was not sufficiently understood that they were imoprtant. It was depreciated in extremely dualistic directions. Descartes considered imaginative representations (imaginatio) taken in themselves as worthless, and adopted “clear” representations of the mind as the criterion of truth, stressing that it is necessary to strictly distinguish between understanding, notion and imagination. Hence he treated “imagination” – i.e., vague representations taken in themselves, not brought to the clear states of mind – as a source of cognitive error. The Renaissance appreciated images by raising the power of the imagination to the rank of the highest, even divine, cognitive power and the key to the mystery of being. They were appreciated in the aesthetics of romanticism and the art of modernism. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the importance of image and imagination also increased under the influence of the theory of the unconscious in the philosophical conceptions of romanticism. After criticizing the Enlightenment in the era of postmodernism and relativism, anti-fundamentalism and after farewell to the philosophy of the “first principles” (O. Marquard), the image and imagination seem to come back to favor. It is even said after the linguistic turn about the “iconic turn” in culture and philosophy. Nowadays it is emphasized that human activity and its relation to the environment may have and often has a pre-reflective, pre-verbal character and is given in pre-conceptual experiences. Images can influence human beings in these spheres and it turns out to be their specificity (it is taken into account, for example, by the contemporary trend of research on imagery, Bildwissenschaft). In our secular or post-secular world, the theses explicitly point to the existence of the imaginative and mythical realm that cannot be removed from the domain of the human “world”, to the presence or rather the “ubiquity” of the myth (L. Kołakowski) and to the image, which is taking on new, in an unrecognized and undisclosed forms which are also intended to be described and analyzed.

For some time, the scientific image of man has been dominating. It is even said that there is a regime of scientist truth. Scientism, which cannot be ←10 | 11→equated with science itself and which is one of the attitudes that dominates in contemporaneity and at the same time its main ideology and present-day mythology, has broken the integral image of man, eliminating the imaginative and symbolic sphere. What are the effects of this process? Is it not the lack of understanding of this sphere at the same time some fundamental incomprehension of a human being and the degradation of his image? Can that dimension of humanity, however, disappear with the progress of civilization and secularization processes? the dimension that accompanies ontogenesis and phylogenesis of the origins of human history and what consequences would it have?

It was thought using the language of the image in the early stages of human development. The holy books of humanity were written in that language. The image precedes the concept in the development of mental life – does it mean that the contemporary domination of the concept marks the end of the image? Is there still space for a mythical and mythopoetical attitude in the contemporary, demythized image of man and the world? Can the image have a heuristic, creative, cognitive value like in the Antiquity, Plato and in the Enlightenment, G. G. Vico and W. Blake had taught? What is the role of the imagination and image in cognition and philosophy? What is the role of a science? What is the contemporary anthropological, philosophical and cultural meaning of the imagination?

Imagination and the imagery, symbolic sphere constitute the essential realm of the human “world of life” (Lebenswelt) and, as L. Wittgenstein said, “We feel that even if all possible scientific problems were solved, our life problems would not have been touched yet. True, there would be no questions at the time; and this is the answer” (Wittgenstein 1997, 6.52). What is the most valuable for philosophy? The answer is there, as had been taught by the same Wittgenstein, where are the well-posed question (“If any question can be put at all, then you can also answer it” – ibid., 6.5). And this is the purpose of this paper, i.e., to present a few well-asked questions.

The texts collected in the volume are grouped around issues of general reflection on the meanings and grasps of the power of the imagination in philosophical thought, in art, science and in the phenomena of the social world. Considerations are being given to conceptions that underline the role of imagination in making the basic tools of thinking and its development. Concepts of the image and imagination find a specific expression in the perspectives of contemporary French thought, in the traditions of German and Russian thought, in the perspectives of historical epistemology, in the structures of knowledge, in connection with the phenomena of socio-political life and the phenomena in contemporary art.

←11 |


Belting H. (2012). Antropologia obrazu. Szkice do nauki o obrazie, Kraków: Universitas.

Damasio A. (2016). Błąd Kartezjusza. Emocje, rozum i ludzki mózg, Poznań: Dom Wydawniczy REBIS.

Didi Hubermann G. (2011). Przed obrazem. Pytanie o cele historii sztuki, Gdańsk: Słowo/obraz terytoria.

Kołakowski L. (1994). Obecność mitu, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie.

Krasnodębski Z., K. Nellen (eds.) (1993). Świat przeżywany. Fenomenologia i nauki społeczne, Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy.

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Mitchell W.J.T. (2013). Czego chcą obrazy? Pragnienia przedstawień, życie i miłości obrazów, Warszawa: NCK.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (March)
Anthropology of image Political imagery Social Imagery Conceivabilty Symbol understanding Figurative thinking
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2020. 208 pp.

Biographical notes

Ilona Błocian (Volume editor) Dmitry Prokudin (Volume editor)

Ilona Błocian is Associate Professor in the Institute of Philosophy, University of Wrocław, Poland. Her scientific interests include: anthropology of an image, philosophy of images, research on myth, philosophical conceptions of man, sociological approaches to the process of acquiring culture, personality and culture, psycho-culturalism, history of the conceptions of the unconscious, history of psychoanalysis, C. G. Jung's conception and G. Bachelard's conception. Dmitry Prokudin is Associate Professor in the Institute of Philosophy, University of Saint Petersburg, Russia. His scientific interests include: information society, information culture, digital culture and information and communication technology (ICT).


Title: Imagination – Art, Science and Social World
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210 pages