[UCP Books]: The Evolution of Imagination by Stephen T. Asma

A sparkling tour of what we know about the human imagination—where it comes from and how it works
 

“This is a terrific book. It is a grand, expansive journey through the central role of improvisation and imagination in everything we experience, think, and do. Asma draws masterfully on anthropology, genetics, biology, neuroscience, developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and embodied cognition studies.”

Mark Johnson, author of Morality for Humans

 



 

The Evolution of Imagination
Stephen T. Asma
 

Publication date: June 20, 2017  
International publication date: July 11, 2017 $30.00/£21.00

 


 

Consider Miles Davis, horn held high, sculpting a powerful musical statement full of tonal patterns, inside jokes, and thrilling climactic phrases—all on the fly. Or think of a comedy troupe riffing on a couple of cues from the audience until the whole room is erupting with laughter. Or maybe it’s a team of software engineers brainstorming their way to the next Google, or the Einsteins of the world code-cracking the mysteries of nature. Maybe it’s simply a child playing with her toys. What do all of these activities share? With wisdom, humor, and joy, philosopher Stephen T. Asma answers that question in this book: imagination. And from there he takes us on an extraordinary tour of the human creative spirit.


Guided by neuroscience, animal behavior, evolution, philosophy, and psychology, Asma burrows deep into the human psyche to look right at the enigmatic but powerful engine that is our improvisational creativity—the source, he argues, of our remarkable imaginational capacity. Considering everything from how imagination works in our physical bodies to the ways we make images, from the mechanics of language and our ability to tell stories to the creative composition of self-consciousness, Asma expands our personal and day-to-day forms of imagination into a grand scale: as one of the decisive evolutionary forces that has guided human development from the Paleolithic era to today.
 

The result is an inspiring look at the rich relationships among improvisation, imagination, and culture, and a privileged glimpse into the unique nature of our evolved mind. It will publish in June. If you’d like a finished review copy, please be in touch.

 


 

Stephen T. Asma is Distinguished Scholar and professor of philosophy in the Department of Humanities as well as Fellow of the Research Group in Mind, Science, and Culture at Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of several books, including On Monsters, Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads, and Following Form and Function.

 

Please contact Levi Stahl at (773) 702-0289 or lstahl@press.uchicago.edu for more information.

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