waylaid by the charge that it is caught-up in the very “illusion of immanence” that Sartre himself decries throughout both The Imagination and The Imaginary . Richard Kearney writes, “Sartre’s theory of the mental image comes perilously close to the
Noel N. Sauer
Sartre's theory of the imagination is important both as an alternative to the idea that the imagination consists of images contained somehow in the mind - the "illusion of immanence" — and as an early formulation of Sartre's conception of consciousness. In this paper I defend Sartre's theory of imaginative consciousness against some of its critics. I show how difficulties with his theory parallel a perennial problem in Sartre-interpretation, that of understanding how consciousness can negate its past and posit possibilities beyond the facticity of its situation. In this short essay I will not provide a detailed exposition of Sartre's theory of the imagination. Rather, I provide the basis of an interpretation of this theory that emphasizes the role that the past plays in imaginative consciousness.