Is there any scientific process behind imagination?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Imagination is the process by which the mind creates images, possible outcomes, and other thoughts that have not been directly observed or experienced in reality. Imagination is key in most creative endeavors, from invention to art, and the biological process behind it is not fully known. In theory, the mind should only be able to think about things that it has directly experienced; the inference of other possible experiences (for example, imagining oneself climbing Mount Everest) is something that seems to be unique to the human mind. Imagination is almost certainly a process of the conscious mind, although dreams can be said to be uncontrolled imagination; most people who "imagine" specific events or things are deliberately making connections and using mental images -- either created or altered from real memories -- to envision that imagined place, person, or thing. There is not scientific measurement or biological process in place that fully explains imagination at this time, but it is definitely a mental process, controlled by the brain, that is unique to each individual.

oftheworld | Student


Imagination is a process of the intuitive mind.  Much research has been discussed to unravel the link between humans and their creative mind.  It is truly personally and humanistic.


Imagination is considered "a power of the mind," "a creative faculty of the mind," "the mind" itself when in use, and a "process" of the mind used for thinking, scheming, contriving,remembering,creating, fantasizing, and forming opinion.  The term imagination comes from the latin verb imaginari meaning "to picture oneself."  This root definition of the term indicates the self-reflexive property of imagination, emphasizing the imagination as a private sphere.  As a medium, imagination is a world where thought and images are nested in the mind to "form a mental concept of what is not actually present to the senses."  In the sense of the word as a process, imagination is a form of mediation between what is considered "externalized" reality and internalized man (with regard to Manovich and Lacan).  The term is considered "often with the implication that the (mental) conception does not correspond to the reality of things."  Finally, imagination is a term that circulates forms of mass media when the "internalized" private imagination is presented as public, or expressed in a media form, such as film or in virtual reality technology.

Katharine Perdue


The Language of Psycho-Analysis.  LaPlanche, Jean.  W.W. Norton & Co.  NY, NY, 1973.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Vol. 3 Edwards, Paul, ed.  Macmillan, Inc.  NY, NY, 1967.

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics.  Vol. 2  Kelly, Michael, ed.  Oxford University Press.  New York, NY, 1998.

Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics.  Preminger, Alex, ed.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1965, 1974.

The Language of the New Media.  Manovich, Lev.  MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA, 2001.

Gramophone, Film, Typewriter.  Kittler, Friedrich A.  Stanford University Press.  Stanford, CA, 1999.

"The mirror stage as formative of the functions of the I."  Lacan, Jacques.  Ecrits: a selection.   Norton.  NY, NY,  1977 p.1-7.


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