TED Conversations

Charles Zhang

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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

Imagination is another name of innovation. And as to knowledge, you can look it up in a dictionary or just search on the internet. However, you can not search an imagination.

0
Share:
progress indicator
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2012: hi charles, i agree with you. i might say, knowledge is the fuel and imagination is the fruit. knowledge is the ingredient and imagination is the product. but the difference between the two is that, knowledge is available to every one, every where now but not the imagination.
    to make different things with the same knowledge, we need imagination. imagination is based on whatever a person has gone through his/her life till then whatever they have heared, seen, felt. and luckly we humans are able to share that imagination by communicating, and thats how we made this many different things with the limited knowledge we have.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: Thanks for your reply. Pranoy. In addition, I think TED is the place we can share our imagination!
  • Apr 28 2012: I will definitely agree that just because someone has a degree does not mean they are knowledgable. This fact is quite apparent in the world around us.

    There are college graduates running around with their piece of paper looking for jobs that they are unqualified to fill, however they will not take a job "beneath" them so that they do not become a burden on others. Is that a college graduate using their imagination and knowledge? When I was twelve years old I came up with an idea to use magnets in shocks. I focused on it and drew it out. I played with the idea for a couple of weeks, but my basic principle was not functional. However, today, in one form or another, they are using magnets in shocks. Obviously, at twelve I did not have the resources to work past the problem. I just forgot about it and went on.

    Anyway, my point is you began this conversation by asking about imagination and made the following comments:

    "Imagination is another name of innovation. And as to knowledge, you can look it up in a dictionary or just search on the internet. However, you can not search an imagination"

    Imagination cannot be taught. It can only be nurtured, and once grown is difficult to understand or explain.

    Something to ponder: Institutions can box someone in without them even knowing it.
    • thumb
      Apr 28 2012: "Imagination cannot be taught, It can only be nurtured, and once grown is difficult to understand or explain"
      That just what I mean!
      So There is no doubt that knowledge is essential to everybody. And yet it can be re-gained and re-learnt. But the damage to imagination is irreversible, especially in the modern education systems.

      Anyway, thanks buddy!

      ps: are you William?
      • Apr 28 2012: Yes Charles. I know it may seem silly, but I wanted to use my initials instead of my whole first name.

        In reference to imagination: I believe you are right about imagination damage being irreversible, however I hope it is not; if so the consequences are dire. Maybe in time there will be enough people that become enlightened and understand too much group thinking can be detrimental. I believe the discussions on introverts applies to what we are talking about.
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2012: I'm looking at Charles' comment a day ago and it struck me: why don't we infuse our dissemination of knowledge with a healthy dose of imagination. For example, in school, why give teens math "problems" for homework. Why not issue math "puzzles" instead? This silly notion can be expanded and it's not so silly. While teaching geometry, why not display the figures in a format that might demonstrate visual weight, symmetrical and asymmetrical etc. That image could vibrate more than the optical receptors - it could stimulate an area of creativity that might have lain dormant.

    I think creativity can be "taught" in that it can be fomented by certain approaches, attitudes and surroundings. While Knowledge IS essential to education, careers and callings, most creative people seek knowledge that then may produce more creativity. The danger with focusing on the superiority of Knowledge is that people can become complacent. They can believe that knowledge is definitive. It's not. Knowledge is only knowing as much as we are capable of definitively knowing. Creativity is not relying on definitive models of knowledge - creativity creates the next newer model of knowledge and looks forward to the excitement of being eclipsed.
    • thumb
      Apr 29 2012: Your response is really nice.
      And Thanks for your attention on my topic.
      Actually, I agree with your point except I prefer "nurtured" to "taught" when talking about imagination.
  • Apr 27 2012: As far as your statement, "In most professions and academic fields, imagination is more important than knowledge." I do not believe that is true because most people must have a degree to get a job, and from my experience a degree definitely does not dictate whether someone has imagination.

    I was agreeing with the point that imagination is extremely important, but their must be at least a superficial knowledge of a subject, preferably multiple disciplines, to utilize one's imagination to its potential.
    • thumb
      Apr 28 2012: Thanks for your reply, William.
      But I think degree is not a synonym of knowledge. To get a degree, only knowledge is not enough. Even in my area, science, you have to apply your imagination in your research for a degree.
  • thumb
    Apr 26 2012: Why must you choose. Would you want a Doctor to operate that was without knowledge but displayed a great imagination. I feel that this is a trap. Can I be immaginative and yet not inventive. Many great inventions were the result of a bad procedure or even a accident. These discoveries were not a result of either knowledge or imagination. Edison was looking for a hearing aid when he invented the telephone and that happened when Mr Watson spilled a bottle of acid .... luck, knowledge, innovation. At some point there is a intersection of all of the above. The sight to see a need ... the knowledge to follow a logical path ... 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration .. and perhaps a little luck to pull it all together. So in summary I do not choose one over the other but make them mutual ingredents to a successful conclusion. All the best. Bob
    • thumb
      Apr 27 2012: Yes, Bob. I can understand your point. Of course, imagination +knowledge +luck maybe the best choice. However, when we talking about the education, we cannot focus on everything. And furthermore, in some education systems they are not reconcilable. Namely, the western system focus more on imagination. The east Asia system view the knowledge higher.
      How you can share your view with me. If you faced such choice.
      • thumb
        Apr 27 2012: If forced I would select knowledge. I believe that knowledge would lead to the person to exceed the boundries of his practical applications. This is proven by The Art of Problem Solving by Richard Rusczyk the winner of the International Mathematical Olypiad. The knowledge is necessary to solve problems but extrapulation and immagination is necessary when facing new and unexplored areas of mathematics.

        However, I also think I could make an eqally persuasive argument that without an immagination therotical subjects could not be pursued. Also with out the questioning mind many of todays accepted science and math models would not exist.

        Now, my friend, I ask you which .. if forced ... would you select.

        I have enjoyed this exchange and wish you all of the best. Bob
        • thumb
          Apr 28 2012: Me too, thanks for your sharing.
          If forced, i will choose imagination. Of course I know the knowledge is the base of imagination. Without knowledge, imagination is just illusion. There is no way but learning knowledge in order to enhance one's imagination ability.
          However, As I think it is harder to get than the knowledge. So I value it more.
          Maybe just because I am still a young man, and I want to be someone different.
          Best wishes! Charles
  • Apr 26 2012: The point you made about knowledge is true. Information is free and easily accessable, but what I call "lateral thinking" is rare. Lateral thinking requires imagination along with at least a superficial knowledge of subjects to transfer principles/theories from one discipline to another.

    From my experiences I have concluded that an imagination is primarily developed from a young age.

    Imagination cannot be taught within the typical boundaries of education. I believe imagination is solely developed within a diverse environment where there is the freedom to be creative. Too many rules destroys the imagination.
    • thumb
      Apr 27 2012: William, thanks for your reply.
      However, I am not sure whether you are for or against the argument.
  • thumb
    Apr 25 2012: when you don't have knowledge about a subject then how can u imagine its future which there by helps u in innovation!!