A module for metaphor? The site of imagination in the architecture of the mind

Daniel Nettle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Contemporary psychology claims an influential position that suggests that the mind is made-up of constellations of domain-specific, specialized computational mechanisms. Controversy remains on how integrative cognitive processes such as imagination fit into this suggested architecture of mind. This chapter considers some of the three possible conceptualizations of imagination. The first conceptualization purports imagination as an operation of the domain-general central process in a Fodorian mind. The second suggests imagination is an operation of a specialized module in a massively modular mind, and the third conceptualization asserts imagination as a product of low binding selectivity in Clark Barrett’s ‘cogzyme’ mind. Of the three conceptualizations, the last one is the most promising, as the key to the imagination seems to be the mapping of meaningful representations between dissimilar cognitive domains. Imagination is thus a consequence of the incomplete insulation between parallel specialized processes. Such de-insulation initiates novelty and innovation but it also allows possible delusional beliefs and psychotic illnesses. Like evolutionary development, imagination has benefits and costs as well.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImaginative Minds
EditorsIlona Roth
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780197264195
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameProceedings of the British Academy
PublisherOUP/British Academy

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