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Towards a Conative Account of Mental Imagery

Patel, Shivam (2022) Towards a Conative Account of Mental Imagery. [Preprint]

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Philosophers and psychologists assume that mental imagery is a cognitive state, that it represents things as being a certain way. However, I argue that imagery is a conative state: it represents things as to be made a certain way. I challenge the traditional assumption by targeting an increasingly popular cognitive account that identifies mental imagery, such as inner speech, with predictions of sensory input. This predictive account faces both empirical and theoretical problems. The account not only fails to capture the salience effects exhibited by mental imagery, it also cannot explain why subjects should not spend their lives minimizing prediction error by engaging in fantasy. These shortcomings highlight what I call the conative profile of imagery, which includes its salience, motivational, and performance effects. I argue that an alternative, conative view of imagery, according to which mental images are goal states, is best able to account for its conative profile.

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Item Type: Preprint
Patel, Shivam
Keywords: mental imagery; conation; inner speech; predictive control; predictive processing
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Shivam Patel
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2022 13:23
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 13:23
Item ID: 21566
Official URL:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Date: 16 December 2022

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