Is it merely an accident of English etymology that 'imagination' is cognate with 'image'? Despite the icoclasm shared to a greater or lesser extent by all Abrahamic faiths, theism tends to assert a link between beauty, goodness and truth, all of which are viewed as Divine attributes. Douglas Hedley argues that religious ideas can be presented in a sensory form, especially in aesthetic works. Drawing explicitly on a Platonic metaphysics of the image as a bearer of transcendence, The Iconic Imagination shows the singular capacity and power of images to represent the transcendent in the traditions of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Islam. In opposition to cold abstraction and narrow asceticism, Hedley shows that the image furnishes a vision of the eternal through the visible and temporal.
Douglas Hedley is Reader in Hermeneutics and Metaphysics and Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge, UK. A past President of the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion, he is the author of Coleridge, Philosophy and Religion (2000), Sacrifice Imagined (2011) and Living Forms of the Imagination (2008).