Seeing the Unreal: Husserlian Insights into the Nature of Images

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This paper aims to discuss some of the ways in which Husserliana XXIII (1980), i.e. the volume containing most of Edmund Husserl’s unpublished works on image and phantasy consciousness, can provide a seminal contribution to the contemporary theories of images on a wide-ranging level. I will first lay out how, in the third part of his famous 1904/1905 Göttingen lectures ‘Phantasy and Image Consciousness’, Husserl comes to affirm that phantasy consciousness does not rely on the mediation of mental images. Indeed, I will maintain that in ruling out the possibility of interpreting phantasy representation as imaging (Bildlichkeit) representation, Husserl discovers the ‘reproductive’ structure of phantasy. In this view, phantasy experience reveals itself to be the counterpart of the perceptual experience. I will then argue that such outcomes can in turn bear on Husserl’s account of image consciousness, which can finally be understood as a specific case of perzeptive Phantasie. Finally, I will endeavour to show how these phenomenological results can shed light on crucial issues raised by analytic philosophy regarding the nature of depiction, precisely concerning the role played by imagination in it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-70
Number of pages14
JournalStudies on Art and Architecture
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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