Striking at the Heart of Cognition: Aristotelian Phantasia, Working Memory, and Psychological Explanation
Keywords:Phantasia, Working Memory, Faculty Psychology, Psychological Explanation
AbstractThis paper examines a parallel between Aristotle’s account of phantasia and contemporary psychological models of working memory, a capacity that enables the temporary maintenance and manipulation of information used in many behaviors. These two capacities, though developed within two distinct scientific paradigms, share a common strategy of psychological explanation, Aristotelian Faculty Psychology. This strategy individuates psychological components by their target-domains and functional roles. Working memory and phantasia result from an attempt to individuate the psychological components responsible for flexible thought and are thus implicated in most of our robust cognitive processes, from reading comprehension to problem solving. We then present two novel objections which suggest that these capacities cannot explain our ability to engage in flexible thought. To escape the resultant impasse, we survey alternatives and argue that most promising strategies depend on identifying the behaviors attributed to intelligent thought and action.
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