The’Vis Imaginativa secundum Avicennam’ and the Naturally Prophetic Powers of Ymaginatif in the B-Text of Piers Plowman.
A continuation of “The ‘Vis Imaginativa’ and the Reasoning Powers of Ymaginatif in the B-Text of Piers Plowman,”JEGP 84 (1985): 16-29. (See item 800) The prophetic nature of the “vis imaginativa,” first suggested by M. W. Bloomfield, is explained with reference to Avicenna who, like WL in B. 11.320-410 and B. 12.281, describes this faculty as transforming the data of human sensory experience into the matter of revelation in inner and outer dreams. The “vis imaginativa secundum Avicennam” transforms the prophet’s abstract moral intuitions into images that impel him to communicate with his society in the hope of reforming it and himself; this parallels the prophetic activities of Ymaginatif in B. 1l- 12 especially. Between 1150 and 1250, Avicenna’s psychology was subjected to Christian redaction, in which tradition the “vis imaginativa” was described as both joining true images and separating false images from the true, and impelling the natural prophet to be attracted to the true and repelled by the false, as is also seen in Ymaginatif’s effect on Will. Will changes the source of his sensory reasoning power from Thought to Ymaginatif when he is shamed by his rebuke of the Reason in Kynde (B. 11.405). Reason has led Will to recreate Adam’s sin of pride; from this point Will “begins to know spiritually from the hypostatization of an animal, sensory power in his own brain.” By the end of the inner dream Will has received from Ymaginatif a path toward the kynde knowyng of Dowel: patience. By the beginning of B. 13 Will has accepted both Ymaginatif’s deliberative Reason and his motive Reason; awake briefly, when he certifies to himself the truths of the continuing outer dream of B. 12, he is shown to act out the “propria propheta virtutis imaginativae secundum Avicennam.”