Imagination is an outstanding contribution to a notoriously elusive and confusing subject. It skillfully interrelates problems in philosophy, the history of ideas and literary theory and criticism, tracing the evolution of the concept of imagination from Hume and Kant in the eighteenth century to Ryle, Sartre and Wittgenstein in the twentieth. She strongly belies that the cultivation of imagination should be the chief aim of education and one of her objectives in writing the book has been to put forward reasons why this is so. Purely philosophical treatment of the concept is shown to be related to its use in the work of Coleridge and Wordsworth, who she considers to be the creators of a new kind of awareness with more than literary implications. The purpose of her historical account is to suggest that the role of imagination in our perception and thought is more pervasive than may at first sight appear, and that the thread she traces is an important link joining apparently different areas of our experience. She argues that imagination is an essential element in both our awareness of the world and our attaching of value to it.
Helen Mary Warnock, Baroness Warnock, DBE, FBA, FMedSci, is a British philosopher of morality, education and mind, and writer on existentialism.
"[Mrs. Warnock concentrates] on puzzles of perception and interpretations, that is, on imagination defined as the mediating faculty between the 'objective' world of phenomena and our subjective experience of it. She then examines the use we make of that mediated experience. And, as reductive as this narrow focusing of attention may sound, it is surprising what a spread of topics it illuminates. . . . You could not wish for a clearer or more elegantly argued account of these particular concerns." -Economist
"Although her exposition and commentary resembles an account of historical development of the Romantic concept of imagination and its twentieth-century critique, in fact she is more concerned to refine her own (and her reader's) understanding of the diverse but related functions of imagination. . . . Her discussion of Kant is brilliant." -Journal of the American Academy of Religion