Alex Chesbro's Blog

We. | April 6, 2009

On our planet we have an animal called a bear. It is a large animal, sometimes larger than us humans, and it is clever and has ingenuity, and it also has a brain as large as us. But the bear differs from us in one important way. It cannot perform the activity we call imagining. It cannot make mental images of how reality might be. It cannot envisiton what we call the past and what we call the future. The special ability of imagination is what has made our species as great as it is. Nothing else.

It is not our ape-nature, not our tool-using nature, not language or our violence nor our caring for young or social groupings. It is none of these things, which are all found in other animals. Our greatness lies in imagination.

The ability to imagine is the largest part of what we call intelligence. We think the ability to imagine is merely a useful step on the way to solving a problem or making something happen. But imagining is what makes it happen.

This is the gift of our species and this is the danger, because we do not choose to control our imaginings. We imagine wonderful things and we imagine terrible things and we take no responsibility for either choice. We say we have inside us both the power of good and the power of evil, the angel and the devil, but in truth we have just one thing inside us— the ability to imagine.




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