Imagination and experience

After the initial basis of a rational life, with a civilized language, has been laid, all productive thought has proceeded either by the poetic insight of artists, or by the imaginative elaboration of schemes of thought capable of utilization as logical premises. In some measure or other, progress is always a transcendence of what is obvious.

— Whitehead (1929, 9)

‘Productive thought’ then is bound to be imaginative. But it is an imaginative response to (or reading of) actual experience – not imaginary experience – that is most productive, in science, art and religion.
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What i have called recreation could also be called renovation – as in the ancient Chinese classic The Great Learning. According to this text, ‘the way of learning to be great (or adult education) consists in manifesting the clear character, loving the people, and abiding in the highest good’ (Chan 1963, 86). And according to Ch’eng, a Chinese editor of the text, ‘loving the people’ should be read as ‘renovating the people.’ Continue reading Renovation

Nature’s imagination

Life imitates art. We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.

— John M. Culkin, “A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan” (Saturday Review, 1967)

Every time we introduce a new tool, it always leads to new and unexpected discoveries, because Nature’s imagination is richer than ours.

— Freeman Dyson, ‘The Scientist as Rebel’, in Cornwell (ed.), Nature’s Imagination

The process of natural design, it seems, will routinely outrun the imaginings of human theorists.

— Clark 1997, 97