Sunday, 6 June 2010

Imagination - more important than knowledge

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) was a Jewish, German-Swiss-Austrian-American physicist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential scientists of all time. I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. Albert Einstein as quoted in "What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" in The Saturday Evening Post (26 October 1929)

That is a truly interesting quote that starts a discussion about superiority of imagination upon knowledge. While some find it irrelevant to measure one against the other I believe knowledge wouldn’t exist without the imagination. The source of knowledge is curiosity about the world, a search for explanations and answers, it’s a creative process driven by imagination. Einstein used to think beyond the norms and it is why he was able to develop his Theory of Relativity in the first place. Einstein also had passion for creative arts such as literature and music. Later in life, he found relaxation in improvising on his violin: "First I improvise, and if that doesn't help, I seek solace in Mozart [surely one of the greatest improvisers!]. But when I am improvising and it appears that something may come if it, I require the clear constructions of Bach in order to follow through" (Ehlers, p. 132). Variations, then, but on a theme.

References: Wikipedia,
Ehlers, Anita. Liebes Hertz! Berlin, Birkhauser, 1994; Calaprice, Alice, Ed. The Expanded Quotable Einstein. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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