【Seminar】Zuzanna Rucinska_Imagination and virtual reality


Topic:Imagination and virtual reality
Speaker:Zuzanna Rucinska


“Does imagination play a role in virtual reality (VR), or does VR discard the need for imagining, because we perceive in it? In this talk I will show how we can answer this question from an enactivist perspective. The enactivist answer is substantially different from the other available proposals dominating the view today. The first is that we need imagination to represent fictional contents (Walton 1990; Robson and Meskin 2016), including the fictional contents of the VR (Van de Mosselaer 2018, 2020). The other is that there is no need for imagining in VR, because in VR one does not engage with fictional objects, but with real, computer-generated objects (Aarseth 2007; Chalmers 2017, 2022), which can be directly perceived (Gooskens 2014). In this talk I explore a third alternative, which is that what we perceive in VR are neither fictions nor digital objects, but virtual affordances for acting in the virtual world. Then, I argue that the perception of virtual affordances is an imaginative act in the relevant sense: as the future anticipated action is not yet there, the anticipation can be seen as a kind of imagining itself (Gallagher and Rucińska 2021). I show that on the enactivist view, imagination is strongly constrained by embodiment, and plays various roles outside of representing counterfactuals, such as rehearsing and anticipating actions – which extends to perceiving possibilities for actions in the virtual world. I conclude with implications of this proposal for VR research, such as for understanding immersion in, and designing of, virtual worlds.”