The other path: the role of imaginative mediation in thinking – from Kant to Peirce

Reni Yankova

*The full article had been published in “18th International Meeting on Pragmatism – Proceedings”

Since René Descartes and the era of Rationalism, the Western philosophical thought has been dominated by the mind-body dualism, rapidly extended to a metaphysical notional. Opposing the famous school of the British Empiricists, Descartes and his followers – Spinoza and Leibniz, succeeded to put the Western philosophical tradition into the new canon of metaphysical dualism. Descartes has considered the universe as composited of two radically different kinds of substances – the mind defined as thinking, and the body – defined as matter and unthinking. It will not be exaggerated to say that the Cartesian dualism went on to influence many of the subsequent Western philosophers in the following three centuries. Despite its innovative attributes and its significant influence, the Cartesian doctrine also brought a certain limitation to Western thought. Reducing all meaningful processes in both – mind and universe – to deduction and logical thinking, Descartes deprived them of creativity, spontaneity and imagination. Then a significant question could raise: is thinking possible through any other kind of mediation except the logical one?

Following the ideas of the American pragmatist Charles Peirce, this paper will present the notion that creative or imaginative mediation in thinking is equally important for the development of both mind and universe. The traces of this “other path” in Western philosophy will be found first in Kant`s notions of reflective judgment and genius, and then in Peirce`s evolutionary cosmology and metaphysics. The role of imagination in the process of thinking has been underestimated in philosophy before the development of American pragmatism. In both William James and John Dewy, we can find significant sparkles on that topic. But the holistic philosophical system of Peirce is the place where the idea has blossomed. Imagination defined as the spontaneous conjunctional (even divine) power of creation, abduction and evolution found its proper place in his metaphysics.

Tags: , ,