by Gilbert Ross
Imagination is one of those things that have been grossly misjudged throughout history and up to a certain point vilified through the growing cynicism of a modernised world. Society consensually projects the idea of imagination to childhood and it often equates it with immaturity or a lack of thinking seriously and rationally. Even artists and people with a creative flair in general have been directly or indirectly discredited at some point in their lives – either at school, at home or by their peers. It’s as if the liberal use of the imagination is silently shunned by society.
The Historical Demise of Imagination
The root of all this comes from a global culture in developed countries that has been increasingly leaning towards a patriarchal, logical and rational based society. In spiritual literature, creativity is seen to be more the domain of the feminine and in neuroscience, creative imagination is found to be more dominant in the right hemisphere of the brain. If you look at the history of the western world, one can see a crescendo, especially during the last 200 years, of a trend towards a ‘left-brain’ dominated society. In the early 20th century, Ideologies such as Fascism and the scientific movement known as ‘logical positivism’ come to mind. These are notorious examples of ‘chauvinistic’ or ‘left-brain’ ideologies.
Imagination Driving us into the Future
“What really made us leap forward as humans since we invented fire is our imagination”
What I find interesting when I look at the two sides of our brain – logical rationality vs creative imagination – from a historical perspective, is that the world has not progressed because of logic and rational thinking but despite of it. What really made us leap forward as humans since we invented fire is our imagination . I am not discrediting rational thought. Rationality was and is helpful to refine, make clearer and structure ideas and thoughts. It is also needed to keep imagination in balance because if imagination runs too wild and out of control it can also be destructive as much as a society completely devoid of it.
Even Science which is considered to belong solely to the domain of logical and analytical thinking has progressed forward because of human imagination. If you look at the greatest Scientific theories and discoveries, you will see that they were spurred by the use of the imagination and intuition. Rationality, logic and mathematics is later used to verify (or falsify), structure and define those conjectures and ideas. In short, imagination is what makes the world go round.