Heidi Maibom: "Unimaginable!"

Lecture by Heidi Maibom, Department of Philosophy, Carleton University, Canada


Freudian views maintain that dreams teach us about ourselves because they tap into our unconscious. Dreams are not premonitions about what is to come or messages from Gods. They teach us not about the world, but about how we view the world; about who we are. I argue for a Freudian turn when it comes to how to interpret the empathic imagination. Canonical views suggest that we gain knowledge of how others think and feel by imagining being in their position. I argue that we learn more about ourselves through the empathic imagination than we learn about others. Our deeper attitudes, biases, etc. shine through our empathic attempts, and limit them. This is partly because we project our own thoughts and feeling on to others, and partly because our state of mind affects rather profoundly how we think of them. This is not to say that we cannot gain understanding of others through the empathic imagination. We can. But the imaginative effort does not produce substantive new knowledge of others. Usually, we only imagine within the bounds of what we know. But often we do not know what we know. Our imagination helps bring it out. It plays midwife to our latent knowledge.

Maibom is an associate professor at Carleton University at Department of Philosophy & Institute of Cognitive Science. Her research focuses on folk psychology and moral psychology. She recently co-edited Neurofeminism: issues at the intersection of feminist theory and cognitive science (Palgrave MacMillan 2012).

Time: Tuesday, 8 May 2012, 13.15 to 15.00

Place: CFS, University of Copenhagen, lecture room 25-5-11, Njalsgade 140-142, 5th floor

The lecture is open to all, including students. Welcome!