Imagination V. Knowledge

For thousands of years, knowledge, and the creation of new knowledge, has been essential to the growth and advancement of human society. Whether it was the introduction of democracy or a new, more improved version of technology, “justified true beliefs,” are and have been a prominent factor in the development of civilization. But where does new knowledge come from? Historically, some of the greatest and most influential discoveries have spawned from human imagination.

This has been true since the early Greek philosophers such as Thales, Socrates, and Hippocrates all of whom used their own unique insight to create knowledge claims which, after years of refining and justification, became the basis for many truths evident in our society today. So which is more important, knowledge or imagination? According to Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

” But is he right? Does imagination actually have more to offer humanity than existing knowledge? If one were to look at how the work of an individual such as Thomas Edison or Orville Wright has helped mankind to advance over the years, he or she would most likely answer yes, and with just cause. These “great men” act as perfect examples of how an individual’s open-mindedness and unique insight can enhance the overall data base of society.

The ability to exhibit a high level of creativity, however, is not the only factor which plays a part in the progression of society. The use of existing knowledge does too. Although imagination may seem to spawn completely from one’s own thoughts, knowledge is actually essential to this thought process. Without knowledge there would be no invention or ingenuity because people would not have information on which to base their ideas. Furthermore, without the support of existing knowledge newly formed inventions and innovations could not be justified established as truth.

In short, while imagination may be the most influential factor in the growth of human society, existing knowledge acts as a critical starting point in establishing basis for all the potential knowledge there could be. In order to create new knowledge, the great scientific and creative minds of both past and present used existing knowledge as a foundation for their imagination. Albert Einstein such an individual. Born in the late nineteenth century, Einstein became interested in science at a young age.

The prodigy’s rapidly developing interest combined with a new unique style of considering the existing laws of science allowed Einstein to write, “four of his most influential research papers, including the Special Theory of Relativity” (Einstein Official Site) in 1905. After years of research, Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921 for his various theories including his General Relative Theory of 1915 and the popular discovery of e = mc2. While these theories are widely accepted today, they were not always accepted as truth.

First these knowledge claims needed to be justified. Prior to 1915, Einstein’s alternative approaches understanding physics had led him to believe that there were different laws which would explain unknown factors in the movement of particles. This belief later turned into a truth and then into knowledge for Einstein because in his intensive research he had found enough empirical evidence to justify his position. However, just because Einstein had found enough justification to create new knowledge did not mean the rest of the world was on the same page.

It was not until 1921 that many of Einstein’s theories were accepted by other physicists. This is because, like Einstein, the other people investigating these newly proposed rules also needed enough justification to support claims they had never heard of before. But in the long run, Einstein’s theories did become extremely important to the world of physics. Currently his ideas help create things such as the television and remote control. But does that not mean that without Einstein, much of technology used today would not exist?

As established earlier in this paper, this would most likely not have been the case. On the contrary, humanity would most likely have discovered these laws of physics, but at a much slower rate. While they were not essential to the progression of human society, Einstein’s alternative approaches to physics did greatly accelerate the understanding of physics and the creation of new technology. Without knowledge, the gains of the past are lost. Without imagination, the gains of the future are never realized.

The great scientific and creative minds of today stand upon the shoulders of past knowledge and imagination. Knowledge gives us the tools. Imagination helps us to use those tools. Knowledge provides the foundation, the platform, the launching pad for the imagination. The imagination is supported by knowledge and can lead to further knowledge. But knowledge without imagination is static. It cannot get off the ground. It cannot soar. Knowledge is what is seen and known. There would be no change, no growth, nothing new under the sun if all we had was that which is already seen and known.

Primitive peoples lived exactly the same way for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is nothing wrong with that but it limits the human potential. Imagination is the realm of the invisible and the unknown. With the imagination, we leap from the known to the formerly unknown. We see in our mind’s eye that which no on else has ever seen before. Imagination is related to seeing, as in seeing an image. Throughout history, the greatest and most influential discoveries have been made by individuals.

This has been true since the early Greek philosophers such as Thales, Socrates, and Hippocrates all of whom had knowledge claims which, after years of refining and justification, became the basis for many truths evident in our society today. On the other hand, while individuals can be successful in creating new knowledge, their independence holds a few minor drawbacks. The most important point to consider is the strength of the individual’s analysis. Because there is only one person attaining and analyzing the evidence needed to justify a claim, there may be flaws in his or her final conclusion.

Additionally, the person conducting the “experiment” may have missed evidence or analysis crucial to the understanding the claim. In light of this fact, it is possible that an individual’s knowledge claims may contain logical fallacies. This in turn would affect the understanding of the claim, causing less people to support it. With fewer people supporting a knowledge claim, the theory may not become widely accepted new knowledge, even if it a “justified, true belief,” to the individual who created it. However, there is an easy fix to this problem.

This solution comes in the form of “knowledge communities. ” While knowledge communities often times depend on an individual’s creativity when creating new knowledge, these groups can provide stronger analysis and justification of various knowledge claims. This is because, unlike individuals who are left with one analysis of their theories, knowledge communities combine the ideas of multiple knowers into one, strong analysis of a claim. Furthermore, the combined justification of multiple sources attains more widespread support, which helps in turning knowledge claims into new knowledge.

Like the new knowledge produced by individuals, knowledge communities can also create flawed theories. While these groups are successful in providing stronger, more in depth analysis of knowledge claims, knowledge communities are often subject to bias and close minded reasoning. This can best be chapter eight of Inherit the Stars in which the scientists studying Charlie came to the conclusion that unknown specimen had in fact come from mars without any evidence supporting the claim.

“The meeting eventually accepted that the Martian-origin theory which created more problems than it solved and, anyway, was pure speculation” (Hogan 34). This quote exemplifies the fact that people in knowledge communities can often times become subject to one idea. Even though there was no evidence supporting the fact that Charlie was from Mars, the people at the meeting accepted the theory. This is because, with no reasonable explanation of Charlie’s presence on the moon, the next most logical conclusion was that the specimen had to have come from different planet than earth.

Unfortunately, as more people began to agree with this knowledge claim, it became harder to discover the truth because the people in that knowledge community would look for evidence supporting their claim. This type of bias appears in many knowledge communities, and is a hard obstacle to overcome.

Bibliography “Albert Einstein | Albert Einstein Official Site – Bio. ” Albert Einstein | Albert Einstein Official Site. N. p. , 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. <http://einstein. biz/biography. php>. Hogan, James. Inherit the Stars. Riverdale, NY: Baen Publishing Enterprises, 1978. Print.

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