The Rational Imagination

The Rational Imagination : How People Create Alternatives to Reality

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Description

The human imagination remains one of the last uncharted terrains of the mind. This accessible and original monograph explores a central aspect of the imagination, the creation of counterfactual alternatives to reality, and claims that imaginative thoughts are guided by the same principles that underlie rational thoughts. Research has shown that rational thought is more imaginative than cognitive scientists had supposed; in The Rational Imagination, Ruth Byrne argues that imaginative thought is more rational than scientists have imagined.

People often create alternatives to reality and imagine how events might have turned out "if only" something had been different. Byrne explores the "fault lines" of reality, the aspects of reality that are more readily changed in imaginative thoughts. She finds that our tendencies to imagine alternatives to actions, controllable events, socially unacceptable actions, causal and enabling relations, and events that come last in a temporal sequence provide clues to the cognitive processes upon which the counterfactual imagination depends. The explanation of these processes, Byrne argues, rests on the idea that imaginative thought and rational thought have much in common.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 268 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 13mm | 499g
  • Bradford Books
  • Massachusetts, United States
  • English
  • 4 illus.
  • 0262025841
  • 9780262025843
  • 1,955,917

Review quote

"In this lucid and beautifully written book Byrne builds a sturdy bridge between the theories of counterfactual thought and inferential reasoning. The integrated treatment that she proposes is a major contribution to both fields."--Daniel Kahneman, Princeton University, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences (2002)
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About Ruth M. J. Byrne

Professor Ruth M.J. Byrne is Vice Provost of Trinity College, Dublin University, Ireland.
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