I will be presenting my paper, “Kant on the Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance,” in April at the American Society for Aesthetics Eastern Division Meeting and later on in June at the North American Kant Society Biennial Meeting. Here is the abstract:
Abstract: The phenomenon of “imaginative resistance” refers to psychological difficulties otherwise competent imaginers experience when engaging in particular imaginative activities prompted by works of fiction. While the topic has attracted considerable philosophical attention since 1994, Hume is often cited as the first philosopher to have diagnosed the phenomenon. Unfortunately, so far no historical investigation of the phenomenon has been carried out and no attempt has been made to examine how imaginative resistance connects up with the writings of any of the major philosophical figures in the history of aesthetics. I want to amend this gap in the literature by constructing a Kantian explanation of the phenomenon. The choice to focus on Kant is not arbitrary since I believe that we can derive important insights from his empirical psychology which allow us articulate certain aspects of the imaginative resistance phenomenon that have been neglected within the existing literature, particularly the role of emotions. The main Kantian contribution to this debate, as I will show, is to upset the polarization between rival explanations of imaginative resistance, by suggesting that our possible responses to morally flawed works can vary. In some cases, we resist imagining counter-evaluative claims due to our unwillingness to do so, and in others, due to an inability.