Visually Attending to Fictional Things

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There is a kind of perceptual-imaginative experience we have when we watch screen-based fictions. In such situations it is natural to think of ourselves as “watching Robin Hood” rather than as watching Errol Flynn dressed as Robin Hood. Screen-based fictions are not the only fictions that allow this kind of experience but they encourage it in ways that theatrical dramas cannot quite match, while still photographs do a poor job in this regard. This chapter offers an explanation of this kind of experience, partly by reference to features of the screen medium and partly by reference to aspects of human perceptual-cognitive architecture. The architectural story will tell us something about imagination that reflection on the phenomenology of imaginative experience fails to disclose. The resulting picture may also help us to understand certain kinds of delusions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerceptual Imagination and Perceptual Memory
EditorsFiona Macpherson, Fabian Dorsch
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780198717881
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Attention
  • Delusion
  • Film
  • Imagination
  • Mental files
  • Photography
  • Theatre
  • Vision

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