C-34. Imagination

Imagination as a concept has an anchoring of a sort. The term shares a linguistic root with image and in its most familiar usage does not look to need and process so much as it does to a product that lacks the probity of an image. But as with so many other concepts that bear on behavior, this emphasis does not serve us well when we consider our need to further develop our minding capabilities. Too little of consequentiality is attended by taking this quasi-image view. There’s more to imagination than this downside.

As with the concept of cognition, here too reign ambiguity and confusion. Not just among need, process and product. But also: Are we talking about the body’s capacities – the sensory — or the step’s minding capabilities? (We must, as Dervin points out, make sense, not just sense.) Can the verb forms of these terms be intransitive as well as transitive? They should. They must if we are going to talk about them as developable capabilities and not just as physiological capacities.

With the support of Einstein’s precept that imagination is more important than knowledge, let us note that imagination has a distinctive place in compositional change’s “all that it takes” (II). Whether for composing tertiary tells (Einstein’s utilization) or for creating and inventing other masterworks (“creative imagination”), imagining takes us beyond imaging, bringing the future into the present (C-18), then helping take us into a future of our own composition (II).

(It is telling, is it not, that Einstein’s schooling, so to speak, had as much – perhaps more – to do with his curiosity than with formal instruction? See C-35: Ask yourself!)

Imagination is where thingks live (C-27). What thingks do and might do there, how imagination can serve us, rests on the quality of the questions generating these thingks and on the consequentiality of the problems that evoke those questions. Are we even considering that “the unknown” may be neglecting partial order’s imposition of incomplete instruction and its consequence for us of having to produce some of our instruction (III)? That some conditions are not mysteries. That there is more to life – i.e., problems – than just puzzles? That invention and creativity have roots in minding’s asking questions for which there may not have yet been answers? That we question to discover by composition, not just to uncover what already is or has been?

As to imagination’s kinship, curiosity seems closer than image. Curiosity as capability, however, is not well developed. Unpointed and poorly pointed questions abound (X) — when questions are asked at all (App.IV). Consider, for example, “Huh?” and “What?” Or even: “Why?” and “How?” Not much seed or cultivation for composition there.

Curiosity, we have noted (App. IV), is not all that well fostered, either formally in school or less formally at work, in the family or among peers.. Even gossip, one of its common manifestations, is not all that well regarded. So what is one to do? Try asking yourself more vigorously (C-35). Given the minding resources of cognition and communication (App. III), develop them by applying the same aerobic treatment one gives the heart.

(One such exercise regime might be to regularly subject a succession of familiar concepts and/or situational problems to a systematic inquiry using pointed questions – e.g., to ask about what comes before, after, inside, outside; what is the same or different; what is the same and different (i.e., opposites); what comes long before and what comes – or might come –long after, etc.)

Imagination viewed as product, whether that product is image or envisioned creation, is too much a façade of questioning. Questioning as a consequential process has compositional, as well as discovery, value far too great to leave this capability dormant. Minding, as capability, like the putative mind as capacity, is indeed too consequential to waste.

And so much human effort seems mindingless. And so many problems unsolved – some even unattended. The unattended, tragically, sometimes the victim of dysfunctional minding, of cognitively purposed nonexposure. (The fabled “closed mind;” but “open minded” — i.e., exposure — is far from all that is needed as minding capability.)

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter