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SAAP Annual Meeting 2018

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The Non-Cognitive Sources of Imaginative Experience: A Deweyan Theory of Creativity

This paper explicates and expands upon John Dewey’s theory of the imagination by examining the non-cognitive contexts of imaginative experience. Dewey offers a broad characterization of the imagination as any purposive exchange between the actual and possible, between the established and that which is novel. This exchange, however, transpires in unique ways within “natural,” “cultural,” and “conscious” contexts. In exploring these contexts of imaginative experience, we are given a rich sense of what it means to actively “use” our imaginations. Acts of creativity draw from deep natural sources, from a world “beyond” conscious and cognitive experience. Because creativity emerges from these deep sources, it is at once a force of invention, a mode of understanding environments in a synoptic way, as well as a tool for checking the results of human inquiry against a wider world of experience.

Paul Benjamin Cherlin
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
United States


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