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Imagination is more important that knowledge

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“Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Do you agree?

Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Imagination can be like a person’s intuition and their way of interpreting different ideas; it takes people beyond their knowledge and what they perceive and understand. It creates a mental image of a future state of knowing and allows us to ask the question, “what if?” Knowledge, on the other hand, is the information extracted from experience and education. It is similar to a path that has been laid out by us whether it is through our own personal experiences or through experiments based on the interpretation of our perception. However, without imagination, this path would have never been laid out. Our imagination is the reason why we live, why we achieve what we do and why our knowledge evolves in different areas of knowledge, such as natural sciences, mathematics, and arts. These elements of knowledge reveal the importance of imagination to us, and how imagination is beyond what we call knowledge (Bryne and Price).

The natural Sciences play an important role in shaping our knowledge. However, the knowledge is not alive; imagination creates knowledge and what we think we know. An example of this could be the technology today. Whenever I need to find out the method of doing something or the answer to my questions, all I have to do is go on Google. However, Google is just an accumulation of facts, or knowledge. Without the imagination of those who not only created Google but supplied it with information, it would not exist. Some people may think that technology is just a branch of science and math. For example, they think that computers are the product of mathematical and scientific processes in order to design and put the pieces together and construct the formulas for the computer. Because technology is advancing so quickly, people have started to worry about technology taking over and creating its own forms of knowledge which will destroy mankind. For example, many people fear that robots will gradually become as ubiquitous as the cellphones we carry.

Isaac Asimov, a professor of biochemistry at Boston University, even suggests that robots will get their knowledge from us, and they may take over and create progeny. Even though natural sciences and mathematics may play a significant role in creating new forms of technology, there still needs to be an original idea to propel it. The idea that a robot designed by a human will somehow acquire imagination and supplant humanity is actually quite absurd. The robot is simply the end product of imagination, not the beginning. Humans may have the ability to develop robots to the point where they will change civilization, which is called singularity, but they will never have creativity. Without it, they will not have the two very important foundations, intuition and emotion, which build into imagination. Clearly, imagination is more important than the knowledge which technology uses, and knowledge would have never existed without imagination (“Could Robots Take Over the World?”).

Imagination can also have a significant impact in the area of art through language and literature. Language and literature demonstrate how our imagination is more important than knowledge. Poetry is a form of literature we learn throughout our education. In school, teachers have always taught us how to write poems using different varieties of poetic devices so that we can construct different types of poems such as Haikus, Ballads, Limericks, and Sonnets. When I ask my friends about their opinions on writing poems in school, they all agree that the poems that they write in school never really represent their true feelings and are not very imaginative. Because we must include a certain amount of poetic devices in our poems, it turns into a kind of mechanical writing process devoid of creativity. However, as poems should be simply a reflection of the poets’ feelings, and an earnest attempt to describe them, it would be better to focus on the originality of poetry rather than counting and analyzing the number of poetic devices that the poet uses. It is highly unlikely that when Yeats wrote poems about lost love that he decided to write three metaphors, personification and a simile to describe it.

Nonetheless, some people may argue that knowledge is more important than imagination when writing a poem. They think that the poetic devices can help shape the language and make the poem stand out more. However, it is nearly impossible for a poet to write a good poem while stopping and thinking about how many poetic devices he has used and whether there are enough. Therefore, the knowledge of the structure of poetry again, leads to the limitations of our ideas. A poem is better when people can fully express their imagination without knowledgeable issues holding them back, and then, more than likely, the poem will contain some powerful poetic devices anyways. Our ideas, which originate from our imagination, are far more important than what people expect us to know and understand. (“Imagination May Be More Important than Knowledge” and Gordon).

Think about a scenario where a photographer takes a snapshot of a scene by using a camera, is that imagination or knowledge? The camera itself is man-made knowledge derived from imagination. However, taking a snapshot of a scene is not considered imagination; it is considered knowledge because a “scene” is not created by us; it is created by nature. Photography, however, can be considered imagination where editing takes place. For example, editing a person’s face to make them look better is imagination because we are imagining what we want the person to look like, and we apply that to our knowledge. What about a drawing of someone or anything, is that imagination or knowledge? Since the drawing is created by us, it is considered imagination. We create the drawing through our imagination, how we visualize it in our mind, and how we want it to ‘look’. Therefore, we are the ones who have control over it. With art, imagination is more important than knowledge because without imagination, our society would lack creativity, and every idea would gradually become identical. (“Is Imagination More Important than Knowledge?”)

Although history may just seem like knowledge to us because of all the events and facts that we have to learn, it is far more than that. Nowadays, history presents itself in an imaginative way to help us visualize the events in the past. Our school now teaches us history with textbooks that have images, diagrams, and stories to simply make the contents more interesting, because everybody knows that it can be difficult and challenging to just learn about facts of the past. According to E.H. Carr, “the facts speak only, when historians call on them,” meaning that historical facts depend on the interpretation and imagination of the historians. Even though the facts are very important for us to gain knowledge, imagination from visualization is very important as well. For example, when we learn about different revolutions of the past from the textbooks, we know about the dates, the people involved and what happened. However, we cannot completely extract their emotions and feelings from it.

Therefore, teachers show us videos, pictures or sometimes even tell us to act it out in order for us to understand the cruelty of these events and how the people felt, because we have put ourselves in their situation and perception. After an interview with Sean Gordon, an English tutor, he suggested that knowledge is more important than imagination in terms of history. He argues that it is necessary to understand the facts first and then incorporate our imagination into them. However, very few people would be willing to learn only the facts about history without being able to imagine what life was like in those times or how the people thought at that time. Imagination and visualization are techniques for us to have further understanding of the contents in order to enhance our memorization of knowledge and simply make history more interesting. Therefore, imagination in history is more important because without it, history itself would be very difficult and boring (Carr, E.H. “What is History?” and “Gordon”)

The immense population of today’s world is composed of individuals with different perceptions developed from their experiences in the past, cultural varieties, religious interpretations, and other personal beliefs. While the accumulation of facts may be necessary at times, the motivation for even wanting to know anything comes from the desire that originates from human emotions. Love, poetry, music, history, a beautiful bridge, skyscraper, or car all come from human imagination because we have progressed far beyond the simple need to get from point A to B or to have a warm shelter in which to rest.

We live for our emotions which manifest themselves in our interactions with others and the magnificent creations that we accomplish, and the actual knowledge required, the facts that are necessary to accomplish it, are mere tools. Acquiring knowledge without imagination is like giving a violin to something that has absolutely no ability to inspire imagination for playing. Therefore, I believe that imagination is more important than knowledge because imagination is an element for us to develop our understanding, so that we can establish it into knowledge. Imagination is the foundation of knowledge. It is what inspires humans, and makes us want to be alive.

Works Cited
Byrne, R.M.J. (2005). The Rational Imagination: How People Create Alternatives to Reality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

“Could Robots Take Over the World?” Popular Science. Rena Pacella, 5 Aug. 2004. Web. 20 Jan. 2014.

Price, Nancy Kresin. “Join Academia.edu & Share Your Research with the World.” Imagination As Knowing. N.p., 2006. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

“Is Imagination More Important than Knowledge?” The Premier Online Debate Website. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

“Carr, E.H. “What is History?” Handout given by Guezalova, Karine.

Gordon, Sean. Personal Interview: “Is imagination more important than knowledge under Language and History?” 10 Dec. 2013.

Hunter, Murray, University Malaysia Perlis. “Imagination May Be More Important than Knowledge.” English Pravda.ru. Pravda.ru, 5 June 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

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