Quotes on imagination

Quotes on imagination

These quotes on imagination will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.

Consideration points

  1. What do the quotes suggest about the role imagination plays in our acquisition of knowledge?
  2. Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as a way of knowing, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
  3. Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
  4. How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.

Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at , and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it).

1. The nature of imagination

They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
Francis Bacon
Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.
William Blake
Imagination rules the world.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.
Joseph Conrad
Knowledge is a polite word for dead but not buried imagination.
e. e. cummings
Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.
Albert Einstein
To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all.
Anatole France
No amount of skilful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.
Edward Hopper
Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.
Carl Jung
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.
William Shakespeare
Imagination grows by exercise, and contrary to common belief, is more powerful in the mature than in the young.
W. Somerset Maugham
The imagination is man’s power over nature.
Wallace Stevens
Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.
Henry David Thoreau
Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he isn’t. A sense of humour was provided to console him for what he is.
Horace Walpole
Fools act on imagination without knowledge, pedants act on knowledge without imagination.
Alfred North Whitehead

2. Imagination and emotion

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
H. L. Mencken
Imagination is at the root of much that passes for love.
Gilbert Parker

3. Imagination and faith

Faith is spiritualized imagination.
Henry Ward Beecher

4. Imagination and memory

For memory, we use our imagination. We take a few strands of real time and carry them with us, then like an oyster we create a pearl around them.
John Banville
Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory.
Emile Cioran
Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant.
Victor Hugo
Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience. Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.
Philip Roth

5. Imagination and reason

Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.
Immanuel Kant
Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
C. S. Lewis
Reason respects the differences, and imagination the similitudes of things.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.
William Butler Yeats

6. Imagination and the arts

Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
Arthur Conan Doyle
You can understand nothing about art, particularly modern art, if you do not understand that imagination is a value in itself.
Milan Kundera
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.
Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.
Tom Stoppard
Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.
Simone Weil
Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.
Jessamyn West
The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.
Oscar Wilde

7. Imagination and ethics

The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

8. Imagination and the human sciences

Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Franklin to discover electricity.
L. Frank Baum
Politics is the enemy of the imagination.
Ian McEwan

9. Imagination and the natural sciences

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.
John Dewey
Science does not know its debt to imagination.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.
Maria Montessori
Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.
Henry David Thoreau

10. Imagination and religious knowledge systems

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.
Edgar Allan Poe

Cite this page as: Dunn, Michael. Quotes on imagination (9th September 2013). theoryofknowledge.net. http://www.theoryofknowledge.net/ways-of-knowing/imagination/quotes-on-imagination/ Last accessed: 20th March 2018


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