What is the role of imagination in human cognition and culture? This book explores the hypothesis that such role is larger than we commonly think: imagination is the key to understand many important domains of our lives – including religion, superstition, and ideology – that are often taken to be the province of belief alone. Combining traditional methods of philosophical inquiry with relevant findings from cognitive and social sciences, it seeks to provide solid empirical support for that hypothesis, on the one hand, and to explore its important theoretical and practical implications, on the other. A novel, substantive theory of the imagination emerges as a result. Imagination, on this view, does not just allow us to escape from reality into fictional worlds, but plays a key, direct role in our representation of (and practical engagement with) the real world itself.

Anna Ichino is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Milan, working primarily in the philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology. She previously held research and teaching positions at Bar-Ilan University (Tel Aviv), the University of Antwerp’s Centre for Philosophical Psychology, and the University of Nottingham – from which she received her PhD in 2015. Her articles have appeared in such journals as Analysis, WIREs Cognitive Science, and Philosophia – as well as in edited volumes by Oxford University Press and Routledge