Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Abstract to Limited Horizons: The Habitual Basis of the Imagination

My editor asked me to write an abstract; I share the draft with you.


This essay on pragmatist aesthetics explains how imagination extends the environment into the possible.  While there is no lack of pragmatic theories claiming that imagination extends the environment, few explain how.  After discussing the incompleteness of Mark Johnson’s scholarship on this question, I engage and expand upon Thomas Alexander’s work in John Dewey scholarship to construct a novel Deweyan-pragmatic view of the dynamic structure of imaginative function that emphasizes continuity, temporality, and the emergence of meaning.  I conclude by challenging Dewey scholars to address the question of how, else they are blind to the limitations of imagination while making Oedipal promises on its transformative power.

Feel free to suggest edits.  This will be published in the Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society, which is a pragmatist journal.

8 comments:

  1. I would drop that last line and let people be moved by your argument as they read the paper, no reason to wave a red flag at them before they even get started.
    -dmf

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  2. I have been wavering on that point throughout the editing processs. Toning it down is what all the reviewers and editors recommend, and I have greatly done so, while the Dewey scholars that I talk to stress how complacent the field is. The problem is that few seem to grasp the significance of most of my arguments unless I wave red flags, and thus the wavering.

    Thanks for the comment. I will delete "Oedipal" at the least, though I am faaaaaar from the first scholar to say that.

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  3. p.s. I do not think many scholars will be convinced, and the reason will have little to do with my argument, and much more to do with intellectual complacency. I was just having this conversation today with some Americanist scholars; people in general appear to read secondaries but not primaries, and sometimes massive gaps can occur where a line of secondary reading leads discussion far from the primary. That has happened in this case, and forests of citations to primary and secondary texts do not appear to correct the problem.

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  4. well I know you're not a fan of the neo-pragmatists but I think that they are right that changes in higher-ed come via changes in generations and not thru arguments, but I think that one should still write with a kind of generosity to the reader and give them a chance to be moved by the work, a gesture to a kind of secular grace if you will, looking forward to reading the article
    -dmf

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  5. Dmf, that's not special to neopragmatists. My minor antipathy to neopragmatism has less to do with them being neopragmatists, and more to do with their treatment of neoclassical scholarship as being "mere history."

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  6. Newest draft:

    This essay on pragmatist aesthetics explains how imagination extends the environment into the possible. While there is no lack of pragmatic theories claiming that imagination extends the environment, few explain how within scholarship on John Dewey. After discussing the incompleteness of Mark Johnson’s scholarship on this question, I engage and expand upon Thomas Alexander’s work to construct a novel Deweyan-pragmatic view of the dynamic structure of imaginative function that emphasizes continuity, temporality, and the emergence of meaning. Pragmatist scholars must address the question of how, else they are blind to the limitations of imagination while making promises on its transformative power. Though the present work is rooted in historic scholarship, it promises to flower in contemporary debates in aesthetics, realist phenomenology, and reconciling naturalism and phenomenology.

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    Replies
    1. very good, this kind of description is evocative rather than simply provocative and shows a trust in the power of your ideas to make the case, if one writes to be read than being inviting to the reader just makes sense to me.
      -dmf

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  7. Thanks, DMF.

    I always appreciate your commentary.

    I plan to post the draft of the introduction as a new post. My editor wanted me to expand the introduction, and it should give a sense of what I am up to without needing to read the whole essay, which is rather long.

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