£185,000 project grant for “Mapping the Imagination”

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I have been awarded a £185,000 grant for interdisciplinary work on a specific concept of ‘the imagination’.

The focus of the project, entitled ‘Mapping the Imagination’, is the imagination in the concrete sense of ‘the capacity of the mind to integrate sensory data into discrete gestalts in the process of perception’. The philosophical literature on imagination in this sense primarily concerns everyday perception; but the focus of this project is on the perception of art. My guiding assumption is that works of art deliberately elicit imaginative gestalt-formation; indeed, that such imaginative investment by the recipient is at the heart of what it means to ‘see’ a painting or read a poem. The horizon claim of the project is that learning about this participative perception of art has things to teach us about the way people of faith see the world.

Because these claims cross disciplinary boundaries, understanding their substance and significance requires interdisciplinary collaboration by theoretical and empirical researchers. The aim of the project, therefore, is to support joint work by theologians, philosophers and psychologists to clarify correlations, disagreements, and gaps between philosophical accounts and relevant psychological or cognitive investigations.

I am joined on the project team by a Senior Research Fellow in Cognition and the Arts, Dr Marina Iosifian, as well as by consultants Dr Daniel De Haan (Oxford), Dr John Mulligan (Rice), and Dr Jean-Luc Jucker.

The project begins on 1 October 2020 and runs until 28 February 2022.

See the university press release.