The human ability to imagine that which is not yet in existence is a source of creativity and reverence. Imagination may be more important than knowledge, and it is an important source of problem-solving and art. Great writers and thinkers have explored the concept of imagination, and here’s some of what they have to say:

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It is the human condition to question one god after another, one appearance after another, or better, one apparition after another, always pursuing the truth of the imagination, which is not the same as the truth of appearance.

— Alain (Émile-Auguste Chartier)

Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible.

— Alan Turing

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.

— Albert Einstein

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

— Albert Einstein

Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.

— Albert Einstein

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.

— Albert Einstein

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.

— Albert Einstein

When I examined myself and my methods of thought, I came to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

— Albert Einstein

Discovery consists in seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Nobel winner (Physiology and Medicine, 1937)

If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.

— Alice Walker

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.

— Arnold Toynbee

The root of all fear is imagination.

— Atshushi Okubo

It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.

— Baruch Spinoza

I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.

— Baruch Spinoza

So long as a man imagines that he cannot do this or that, so long as he is determined not to do it; and consequently so long as it is impossible to him that he should do it.

— Baruch Spinoza

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

— Bertrand Russell

Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world.

— Blaise Pascal

So you see, imagination needs noodling — long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.

— Brenda Veland

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

— Carl Sagan

Nothing happens unless first we dream.

— Carl Sandburg

The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.

— Carol Jung

When I open my eyes in the morning, I am not confronted by the world, but by a million possible worlds.

— Colin Wilson

Beyond all sciences, philosophies, theologies, and histories, a child’s relentless inquiry is truly all it takes to remind us that we don’t know as much as we think we know.

— Criss Jami, Killosophy

Affliction is more apt to suffocate the imagination than to stimulate it.

— Denise Levertov

I say to the young: “Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt, The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

For one who is indifferent, life itself is a prison. Any sense of community is external or, even worse, nonexistent. Thus, indifference means solitude. Those who are indifferent do not see others. They feel nothing for others and are unconcerned with what might happen to them. They are surrounded by a great emptiness. Filled by it, in fact. They are devoid of all hope as well as imagination. In other words, devoid of any future.

— Elie Wiesel

Heaven is so far of the Mind
That were the Mind dissolved—
The Site—of it—by Architect
Could not again be proved—
‘Tis vast—as our Capacity—
As fair—as our idea—
To Him of adequate desire
No further ’tis, than Here—

— Emily Dickinson

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

The Brain is deeper than the sea —
For — hold them — Blue to Blue —
The one the other will absorb —
As Sponges — Buckets — do —

The Brain is just the weight of God —
For — Heft them — Pound for Pound —
And they will differ — if they do —
As Syllable from Sound —

— Emily Dickinson

Man is like a tree, with the mighty trunk of intellect, the spreading branches of imagination, and the roots of the lower instincts that bind him to the earth. The moral life, however, is the fruit he bears; in it his true nature is revealed.

— Felix Adler

The contemplation of things as they are, without substitution or imposture, without error or confusion, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention.

— Francis Bacon
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