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Ricoeur’s theory of productive imagination in previously unpublished lectures.

The eminent philosopher Paul Ricoeur was devoted to the imagination. These previously unpublished lectures offer Ricoeur’s most significant and sustained reflections on creativity as he builds a new theory of imagination through close examination, moving from Aristotle, Pascal, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant to Ryle, Price, Wittgenstein, Husserl, and Sartre. These thinkers, he contends, underestimate humanity’s creative capacity. While the Western tradition generally views imagination as derived from the reproductive example of the image, Ricoeur develops a theory about the mind’s power to produce new realities. Modeled most clearly in fiction, this productive imagination, Ricoeur argues, is available across conceptual domains. His theory provocatively suggests that we are not constrained by existing political, social, and scientific structures. Rather, our imaginations have the power to break through our conceptual horizons and remake the world.

384 pages | 1 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2023

Philosophy: General Philosophy, History and Classic Works, Philosophy of Mind


“This volume is an essential text for anyone interested in understanding how the human imagination works. With this careful translation, the editors have given us a necessary piece of Ricoeur's towering contributions to the Western understanding of the creative imagination.”

John Arthos Jr., Indiana University

“This eagerly awaited book invites the reader on a fascinating dive into the depths of human imagination. Tracing a philosophical history from Aristotle and Kant to Husserl and Wittgenstein, Ricoeur offers a unique take on the metaphorical power of fiction in poetry and painting. An indispensable book for anyone interested in the sheer pleasure of invention.”

Richard Kearney, Boston College

“This articulately edited series of lectures reveals key insights into the fruitfulness of Ricoeur’s wide-ranging engagement with different intellectual traditions, including phenomenology, analytic philosophy, linguistics, and poetics.”

Roger W. H. Savage, University California–Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Editor’s Acknowledgments by George H. Taylor
Editor’s Introduction by George H. Taylor
1 Introductory Lecture

Part One: Classical Readings
2 Aristotle
3 Pascal and Spinoza
4 Hume
5 Kant: Critique of Pure Reason
6 Kant: Critique of Judgment

Part Two: Modern Readings
7 Ryle
8 Ryle (2) and Price
9 Wittgenstein
10 Husserl: Logical Investigations
11 Husserl: Ideas
12 Sartre (1)
13 Sartre (2)
14. Sartre (3)

Part Three: Imagination as Fiction
15 Fiction (1): Introduction
16 Fiction (2): Metaphor
17 Fiction (3): Painting
18 Fiction (4): Models
19 Fiction (5): Poetic Language

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