ISSUE-099

In most professions and academic fields, imagination is more important than knowledge.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position.


In human endeavors, it is often debated whether imagination is more important more than knowledge or not. There are supporters on both sides, with their respective arguments. My point of view on this issue is more aligned with those who consider knowledge to be more important, for the reason that in many fields progress is made on the basis of the accumulation of knowledge. As an old adage says, the reason of success is standing on the shoulder of the giants. Without knowledge, imagination alone could not possibly lead to progress and success. I will divide the professions and academic fields into two categories in my discussion below.


First, in the field of natural science, technology, and engineering, knowledge is the very foundation of any meaningful discoveries today,

because modern-day sciences are mostly based on proposing hypotheses on certain scientific questions and designing experiments to evaluate them. Therefore, to come up with an effective hypothesis, one researcher must understand what has been proposed and tested before his or her own theories could be examined. Similarly, to design an experiment, it is imperative that researchers realize the limits of instrumentations and previous achievements, both of which are existing knowledge.

Here, some may argue against my point by pointing out that imagination is the fastest way to innovate because there is no limit to what one could imagine. Innovations, on the other hand, should be the most fundamental driving forces behind any scientific achievements.

While I do not necessarily downplay the importance of original ideas and innovative breakthrough, it should be noted that such progresses are not possible without the accumulation of knowledge.

The synthesis of a new medicine, for example, can certainly benefit from imaginative approaches, but eventually we must use existing methodologies and knowledge to accomplish the synthesis. Examples in other fields of science abound and they all share one common character: it is the knowledge we already have rather than the imaginative miracles paves the roads towards new discoveries and innovations.



Next, in fields that put a strong emphasis on originality and creativity, such as literature, music, and panting, and so on, it is commonly assumed that imagination plays a critical role in the composition of art and consequently is more important than knowledge.

For example,one might claim that it is because of his outstanding imagination that Christopher Nolan could produce the innovative masterpieces such as Inception, Batman, and Interstellar. In those films, the boundary of our existing knowledge in science is transcended by wild imagination that makes the movies riveting. That being said, the knowledge that Nolan has regarding story-telling and cinematography should not be underestimated in the production of those movies. For example, in Nolan’s movie, the timeline is presented in a separate fashion while at the same time the scene is often intertwined to create a resonance in space and time, an advanced story-telling technique that has been widely utilized in the movie industry. Thus, even though the audience may be attracted by the novel ideas such as the differential lapse of time and worm holes, what really makes the movie gripping is the way Nolan tells the main story. Hence, even in fields that seemingly require tremendous amount of imagination, knowledge is still extremely critical and more important than imagination.


To sum up, while I do not deny the importance of imagination, it must be made clear that knowledge is more important than imagination, because without imagination the result may be bland and uninspiring, but if there is only imagination and no support from the existing knowledge, there would hardly be any meaningful result at all.

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