In Plato’s allegory of the cave, Socrates presents a view of the soul as one that is in need of liberation: liberation from the false world of images into the world of light, the world as it actually is. This movement takes place from imagination, to belief/opinion, to thought, and finally to knowledge/intellect. Initially bonded to a world of images, the soul is released and dragged into a world of Truth, a world of the original. And as John Sallis notes, it is “precisely in the failure to see [the images] as images” that determines whether one is in bondage or illuminated.
In a sense then, what I am proposing is a complete inversion of Socrates’ formulaic path toward freedom. Rather than progressing from the imagination toward intellect (nous), what I am proposing is that bondage and thus anxiety are products of believing that there is something other than the image. It is the hope that there is an outside to the cave that produces human anguish. So, instead of proceeding to move logically from imagination, through opinion, to thought, and finally to ‘nous’, what needs to emerge is a revolution of cognition that would see ‘nous’, thought, and opinion as products of the imagination. And as such, if imagination is thus the condition out of which the other modes of cognition emerge, they must be seen as substantial modifications of an anterior activity (i.e. the transcendental imagination). In this way, imagination is not some ‘power of the soul’, it is not merely some faculty of a subject. Rather it is a constituting anterior that itself appeals to no originary anterior, but rather to itself in a sort of self-modifying accumulation of images, which produces subjectivity in its enactment.
In other words, the clarion call of philosophy must be: “back to the cave!”