Meta-Imagination and the Language Game of Visualising

Discover how individuals with aphantasia engage in imaginative exercises using language and how this experience differs from visualizers. Christian Scholz presents a new theoretical concept called meta-imagination.
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Meta-Imagination With Christian Scholz

Imagine pretending to be a daring pirate while playing with a 4-year-old, seeing a tranquil beach during a relaxation exercise or conjuring a morally ambiguous detective roaming the streets of Vienna while crafting a noir novel. People with aphantasia cannot imagine these scenarios visually but we can still engage in what Christian Scholz calls “the language game of visualising” using a process of “meta-imagination.”

Research on aphantasia shows that aphantasics perform successfully on a range of mental imagery tasks despite their inability to visualise. Taking this initially puzzling result as its starting point, this presentation draws on the writings of the 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein to question our understanding of mental images and their role in our overall cognition.

In this fascinating presentation, researcher Christian Scholz presents a new theoretical concept called meta-imagination. Meta-imagination is the ability to “act” as if one is visualising, which people with aphantasia can do.

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About the Researcher

Christian Scholz is currently working as a PhD student at the Institute for Philosophy II at the Ruhr-University of Bochum. Previously, he obtained master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and Logic from the University of Groningen and the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses on the philosophy of mind, where he is especially interested in mental imagery and the phenomenon of aphantasia. He strongly believes that a neuroscientific approach to mental phenomena should be combined with philosophical conceptual analysis and that theoretical conceptualizations, in turn, greatly benefit from an empathetic approach toward the subject. 

Scholz, C. (2023). Imaginability as Representability: A Wittgensteinian Approach to Aphantasia. MSc in Logic – Universiteit van Amsterdam.