Prof. Amy Kind has started blogging about imagination in support of Knowledge Through Imagination, a new Oxford University Press book she co-edited with Peter Kung.
Kind's first post is an exploration of the power of imagination in which she asks "Sure, imagination is powerful. But can it really change the world?"
The tempting answer, Kind writes, is no, given the reality of reality, but drawing from examples of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, and Olympic bobsledders.
To see this — to see how imagination can indeed be a transformative tool in the betterment of ourselves and the society in which we live — we need to understand how imagination can be put to two different and seemingly incompatible uses. On the one hand there’s what we might call ‘the transcendent use‘ of the imagination. When we daydream in meetings, when we escape into a good book or movie, when children play games of pretend, they are using imagination to ‘transcend‘ the reality in which we live. But on the other hand there’s what we might call ‘the instructive use‘ of the imagination. When we use imagination for problem solving, for insight into the experiences of others, for exploration of the potentialities and possibilities that the future might hold, we are using imagination to ‘learn‘ about the reality in which we live. And it seems puzzling that one and the same mental capacity can be put to both of these uses: How can the very same mental capacity that enables us to escape from the world around us also teach us something about it?