Contemporary philosophical discussion on the nature of the imagination has been influenced by recent empirical work in cognitive science. Our imaginative and emotional engagement with works of fiction has been explained by appealing to the similarities between our ordinary cognitive functioning and the workings of our imagination. Believing and imagining, it is argued, are governed by a “single code.” I argue against this claim, and suggest that our imagination – and in particular our literary imagination – in many respects functions very differently from ordinary cognition.

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