Kazimierz Twardowski’s conception of imagination. The early-analytical example and contemporary contexts

  • Rafal Kur
Keywords: Twardowski, Lviv-Warsaw School, Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Psychology, Imagery Debate


A tribute to the early-analytical provenience of reflections on the phenomenon of the imagination is not only a historical reference. In the absence of a consensus in current theories of imagination, referring to Twardowski can be philosophically refreshing and methodologically inspiring. What’s more, it seems that without establishing at least an overall topology of this mental phenomenon, we will not create a formal structure, necessary for logical machine inferences, which would also deal with other issues such as the interpretation of emotions. The problem is not trivial, because the mechanism of imagination is very complex. And that’s what Twardowski noticed when proposing a comprehensive (interdisciplinary) approach, so similar at times to some of the current existing proposals.


Albertazzi, L. (2001), The Primitives of Presentation. Wholes, Parts and Psychophysics, in Albertazzi, L. (ed.), The Dawn of Cognitive Science. Early European Contributors, Synthese Library 295, Springer, Netherlands.

Anderson, J.R., Bower, G. (1973), Human associative memory, Wiley, New York.

Damasio, A. (1994), Descartes’Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, Putnam Publishing, New York.

Fodor, J.A. (1981), Representations, The MIT Press, Cambridge.

Fodor, J.A. (1983), The modularity of mind, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Fodor, J.A. (1998), Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Fodor, J.A. (2008), LOT 2: The language of Thought Revisited, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Fodor, J.A., Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1988), «Connectionism and cognitive architecture: A critical analysis», in Cognition, 28, pp. 3-71.

Francuz, P. (2007), Stephan Kosslyn's Theory of Imagination. A Reinterpretations Attempt, WN Scholar, Warszawa.

Kosslyn, S.M., (1981), «The medium and the message in mental imagery: A theory», in Psychological Review, 88, pp. 46-65.

Kosslyn, S.M. (1994), Image and brain: The resolution of the imagery debate, MIT Press, Cambridge.

Kosslyn, S.M., Shwartz, S.P. (1977), «A simulation of visual imagery», in Cognitive Science, 1, pp. 265-295.

LeDoux, J.E. (2000), «Emotion circuits in the brain», in Annual Review of Neuroscience, 23, pp. 155-184.

Lubbard, T.I., Getz, I. (1997), «Emotions, metaphor and the creative process», in Creativity Research Journal, 10, pp. 285-302.

Paivio, A. (1990), Mental representations. A dual coding approach, Oxford University Press, New York.

Paivio, A. (2006), Mind and Its Evolution: A Dual Coding Theoretical Approach, Taylor & Francis Group, New York.

Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1973), «What the mind’s eye tells the mind’s brain: A critique of mental imagery», in Psychological Biuletin, 80, pp. 1-24.

Pylyshyn, Z.W. (1981), «The imagery debate: analogue versus tacit knowledge», in Psychological Review, 88, 1 (Jan. 1981), pp. 16-45.

Pylyshyn, Z.W. (2004), Seeing and Visualizing: It’s Not What You Think, MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.), London.

Pylyshyn, Z.W. (2007), Things and Places: How the Mind Connects with the World, MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.).

Shepard, R.N., Metzlez, J. (1971), «Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects», in Science, 171, pp. 701-703.

Twardowski K. (1894), O treści i przedmiocie przedstawień [On the content and object of presentations], in Wybrane pisma filozoficzne [Selected philosophical papers], PWN, Warsaw, 1965, pp. 3-91 (transl. by I. Dąmbska from original: Zur Lehre vom Inhalt und Gegenstand der Vorstellungen. Eine psychologische Untersuchung, Wien, 1894).

Twardowski, K. (1897/1927), Psychologia wobec filozofii i fizjologii. Lwów [Lviv], in Wybrane pisma filozoficzne [Selected philosophical papers], PWN, Warsaw, 1965, pp. 92-113.

Twardowski, K. (1898), Wyobrażenia i pojęcia [Images and concepts], Lwów [Lviv], in Wybrane pisma filozoficzne [Selected philosophical papers], PWN, Warsaw, 1965, pp. 114-197.

How to Cite
Kur, R. (2020) “Kazimierz Twardowski’s conception of imagination. The early-analytical example and contemporary contexts”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 14(2). doi: 10.4396/AISB201903.