From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Book of Imaginary Beings (1957) by Jorge Luis Borges
"I am going to write about what I never saw myself, nor experienced, nor so much as heard from anybody else, and, what is more, of such things as neither are, nor ever can be. I give my readers warning, therefore, not to believe me." --A True Story (2nd century) by Lucian
"By throwing a sponge impregnated with various colours against a wall, it leaves some spots upon it, which may appear like a landscape. It is true also, that a variety of compositions may be seen in such spots, according to the disposition of mind with which they are considered; such as heads of men, various animals, battles, rocky scenes, seas, clouds, woods, and the like. It may be compared to the sound of bells, which may seem to say whatever we choose to imagine." --A Treatise on Painting by Leonardo da Vinci
"To conceive of a golden mountain, for instance ,we combine, it is said, the conception of gold, and the conception of a mountain; and the power by which we are enabled to do this, is called Imagination."--Elements of Mental and Moral Science (1828) by George Payne
Imagination is the production or simulation of novel objects, sensations, and ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. Stefan Szczelkun characterises it as the forming of experiences in one's mind, which can be re-creations of past experiences, such as vivid memories with imagined changes, or completely invented and possibly fantastic scenes. Imagination helps make knowledge applicable in solving problems and is fundamental to integrating experience and the learning process.
One view of imagination links it with cognition, seeing imagination as a cognitive process used in mental functioning. It is increasingly used - in the form of visual imagery - by clinicians in psychological treatment.
Imaginative thought may - speculatively - become associated with rational thought on the assumption that both activities may involve cognitive processes that may "underpin thinking about possibilities".
The cognate term, "mental imagery" may be used in psychology for denoting the process of reviving in the mind recollections of objects formerly given in sense perception. Since this use of the term conflicts with that of ordinary language, some psychologists have preferred to describe this process as "imaging" or "imagery" or to speak of it as "reproductive" as opposed to "productive" or "constructive" imagination. Constructive imagination is further divided into voluntary imagination driven by the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) and involuntary imagination (LPFC-independent), such as REM-sleep dreaming, daydreaming, hallucinations, and spontaneous insight. The voluntary types of imagination include integration of modifiers, and mental rotation. Imagined images, both novel and recalled, are seen with the "mind's eye".
Imagination, however, is not considered to be exclusively a cognitive activity because it is also linked to the body and place, particularly that it also involves setting up relationships with materials and people, precluding the sense that imagination is locked away in the head.
Imagination can also be expressed through stories such as fairy tales or fantasies. Children often use such narratives and pretend play in order to exercise their imaginations. When children develop fantasy they play at two levels: first, they use role playing to act out what they have developed with their imagination, and at the second level they play again with their make-believe situation by acting as if what they have developed is an actual reality.
The common use of the term is for the process of forming new images in the mind that have not been previously experienced with the help of what has been seen, heard, or felt before, or at least only partially or in different combinations. Some typical examples follow:
- Fairy tale
- A form of verisimilitude often invoked in fantasy and science fiction invites readers to pretend such stories are true by referring to objects of the mind such as fictional books or years that do not exist apart from an imaginary world.
Imagination, not being limited to the acquisition of exact knowledge by the requirements of practical necessity is largely free from objective restraints. The ability to imagine one's self in another person's place is very important to social relations and understanding. Albert Einstein said, "Imagination ... is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
But in reality, without knowledge, imagination can not be developed.
In various spheres, however, even imagination is in practice limited: thus a person whose imaginations do violence to the elementary laws of thought, or to the necessary principles of practical possibility, or to the reasonable probabilities of a given case is usually regarded by mental health professionals as insane.
The same limitations beset imagination in the field of scientific hypothesis. Progress in scientific research is due largely to provisional explanations which are developed by imagination, but such hypotheses must be framed in relation to previously ascertained facts and in accordance with the principles of the particular science.
Imagination is an experimental partition of the mind used to develop theories and ideas based on functions. Taking objects from real perceptions, the imagination uses complex IF-functions to develop new or revised ideas. This part of the mind is vital to developing better and easier ways to accomplish old and new tasks. These experimental ideas can be safely conducted inside a virtual world and then, if the idea is probable and the function is true, the idea can be actualized in reality. Imagination is the key to new development of the mind and can be shared with others, progressing collectively.
Regarding the volunteer effort, imagination can be classified as:
- voluntary (the dream from the sleep, the daydream)
- involuntary (the reproductive imagination, the creative imagination, the dream of perspective)
- Imaginary friend
- Imaginary landscape
- Imaginary library
- Imaginary painting
- Imaginary portrait
- Imaginary gallery
- Imaginary voyage
- Imaginary world
- The Imaginary (psychoanalysis)
- Imaginary (sociology)
- Artificial imagination
- Body of light
- Cognitive dissonance
- Creative visualization
- Fantasy map
- Golden mountain
- Guided imagery
- The Imaginary (psychoanalysis)
- Imaginary (sociology)
- Imagination Age
- Imagination inflation
- Intuition (psychology)
- Magic realism
- Mental image
- Royal Commission on Animal Magnetism
- Sociological imagination