(In) Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft's fascinating book on the philosophy of imagination, Recreative Minds...(they argue that) for many mental states -- including beliefs, desires, and perceptions -- there is an imagination-correlate that is similar to, but not identical with, the state. So, when I imagine Hamlet killing Polonius, I have the belief-like imagining that Hamlet kills Polonius, the desire-like imagining that Hamlet check behind the curtain to see who's there before stabbing, and, if I engage my visual imagery, the sight-like imagining of the sword piercing through the curtain
I am interested in 'belief-like imaginings and 'desire-like imaginings''. To what extent do we really desire a happy ending to a story? What about a story where we already know the ending? Do we really wish that Hamlet should not kill Polonius? That the crew are not massacred at the end of Blakes 7? That Elizabeth Bennett should make it up with Darcy? It feels a bit like a desire - but is it?
What about belief-like imaginings? I think they are even more interesting. It has been suggested that some people's religious beliefs are actually belief-like imaginings. If I believed there was a policeman watching me, I would not break the law, even if I was weak and evil. Why then do religious people break the law? Do they really think they are watched at every moment, by something infinitely more powerful than a policeman, with infinite punishment at his disposal? Or do they only have a 'belief-like imagining' that they are being watched? How easy is it to distinguish the two states?