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Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses. Imagination is the work of the mind that helps create. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge; it is a fundamental facility through which people make sense of the world, and plays a key role in the learning process. Imagination is the faculty through which we encounter everything. The things that we touch, see and hear coalesce into definite forms through the processes of our imagination.

Sourced Edit

Alphabetized by author
  • Imagination is the air of mind.
  • All human accomplishment has the same origin, identically. Imagination is a force of nature. Is this not enough to make a person full of ecstasy? Imagination, imagination, imagination. It converts to actual. It sustains, it alters, it redeems!
  • Build castles in the air.
    • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Part I, Section II. Memb. 1. Subsect. 3. Also in Romaunt of the Rose. Come nous dicimus in nubibus. (As we said in the clouds.) John Rastell, Leg Termes de la Ley. (1527). * * * his master was in a manner always in a wrong Boxe and building castels in the ayre or catching Hares with Tabers. Letter by F. A. to L. B. 1575–76. Repr. in Miscell. Antiq. Anglic.
  • Une peinture, c'est d'abord un produit de l'imagination de l'artiste, ce ne doir jamais être une copie. Si, ensuite, on peut y ajouter deux ou trois accents de nature, evidemment ca ne fait pas de mal.
    • A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination, it must never be a copy. If, at a later stage, he wants to add two or three touches from nature, of course it doesn't spoil anything.
    • Edgar Degas, quoted in Maurice Sérullaz, L'univers de Degas (H. Scrépel, 1979), p. 13
  • C'est très bien de copier ce qu'on voit, c'est beaucoup mieux de dessiner ce que l'on ne voit plus que dans son mémoire. C'est une transformation pendant laquelle l'ingéniosité collabore avec la mémoire. Vous ne reproduisez que ce qui vous a frappé, c'est-à-dire le nécessaire.
    • It is very good to copy what one sees; it is much better to draw what you can't see any more but is in your memory. It is a transformation in which imagination and memory work together. You only reproduce what struck you, that is to say the necessary.
    • Edgar Degas, quoted in Maurice Sérullaz, L'univers de Degas (H. Scrépel, 1979), p. 13
  • Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as a muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it.
    • Walt Disney, as quoted in The Quotable Walt Disney (2001)
  • It is your key to unlock the hidden wonders of our world.
  • 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, as quoted in "What Life Means to Einstein : An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck" in The Saturday Evening Post, Vol. 202 (26 October 1929), p. 117
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  • I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.
    • Albert Einstein, in Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97; also in Transformation : Arts, Communication, Environment (1950) by Harry Holtzman, p. 138
  • Science does not know its debt to imagination.
  • I respect Kirkpatrick both for his sponges and for his numinous nummulosphere. It is easy to dismiss a crazy theory with laughter that debars any attempt to understand a man's motivation—and the nummulosphere is a crazy theory. I find that few men of imagination are not worth my attention. Their ideas may be wrong, even foolish, but their methods often repay a close study. […] The different drummer often beats a fruitful tempo.
  • Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.
  • Nothing is more dangerous to reason than the flights of the imagination and nothing has been the occasion of more mistakes among philosophers. Men of bright fancies may in this respect be compared to those angels whom the scripture represents as covering their eyes with their wings.
    • David Hume, in A Treatise of Human Nature, Book 1, Section 4, p.225
  • All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.
    • T. E. Lawrence, Introductory Chapter. Variant: This, therefore, is a faded dream of the time when I went down into the dust and noise of the Eastern market-place, and with my brain and muscles, with sweat and constant thinking, made others see my visions coming true. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible.
  • Imagine there's no heaven,
    It's easy if you try,
    No hell below us,
    Above us only sky,
    Imagine all the people
    living for today...
  • Imagine there's no countries,
    It isnt hard to do,
    Nothing to kill or die for,
    No religion too,
    Imagine all the people
    living life in peace...

    You may say I'm a dreamer,
    but I'm not the only one,
    I hope some day you'll join us,
    And the world will be as one.

  • For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.
  • How infinitely superior to our physical senses are those of the mind! The spiritual eye sees not only rivers of water but of air. It sees the crystals of the rock in rapid sympathetic motion, giving enthusiastic obedience to the sun's rays, then sinking back to rest in the night. The whole world is in motion to the center. So also sounds. We hear only woodpeckers and squirrels and the rush of turbulent streams. But imagination gives us the sweet music of tiniest insect wings, enables us to hear, all around the world, the vibration of every needle, the waving of every bole and branch, the sound of stars in circulation like particles in the blood. The Sierra canyons are full of avalanche debris - we hear them boom again, and we read the past sounds from present conditions. Again we hear the earthquake rock-falls. Imagination is usually regarded as a synonym for the unreal. Yet is true imagination healthful and real, no more likely to mislead than the coarse senses. Indeed, the power of imagination makes us infinite.
    • John Muir "The National Parks and Forest Reservations"Sierra Club Bulletin, v. 1, no. 7, January 1896, pp 271-284, at 282-83. [1]
  • Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative.
    • Richard Rorty, Introduction to Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers, Volume 3, 1998.
  • The conception of the necessary unit of all that is resolves itself into the poverty of the imagination, and a freer logic emancipates us from the straitwaistcoated benevolent institution, which idealism palms off as the totality of being.
  • The true function of logic,... as applied to matters of experience,... is analytic rather than constructive; taken a priori, it shows the possibility of hitherto unsuspected alternatives more often than the impossibility of alternatives which seemed prima facie possible. Thus, while it liberates imagination as to what the world may be, it refuses to legislate as to what the world is.
  • Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will.
  • This is the very coinage of your brain:
    This bodiless creation ecstasy.
  • This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions; these are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.
  • And as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
    Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name.
  • Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
    To lie that way thou go'st, not whence thou com'st:
    Suppose the singing birds musicians;
    The grass whereon thou tread'st the presence strew'd;
    The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more
    Than a delightful measure or a dance.
  • Two things of opposite natures seem to depend
    On one another, as a man depends
    On a woman, day on night, the imagined <p> On the real. This is the origin of change.
    • Wallace Stevens, in Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), "It Must Change"" IV
  • The imagination loses vitality as it ceases to adhere to what is real. When it adheres to the unreal and intensifies what is unreal, while its first effect may be extraordinary, that effect is the maximum effect that it will ever have.
  • The operation of the imagination in life is more significant than its operation in or in relation to works of art... in life what is important is the truth as it is, while in arts and letters what is important is truth as we see it.
  • The imagination is the power that enables us to perceive the normal in the abnormal, the opposite of chaos in chaos.
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  • The truth seems to be that we live in concepts of the imagination before the reason has established them. If this is true, then reason is simply the methodizer of the imagination.
  • Men feel that the imagination is the next greatest power to faith: the reigning prince.
  • The imagination is one of the forces of nature.
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  • You do not chop off a section of your imaginative substance and make a book specifically for children, for — if you are honest — you have no idea where childhood ends and maturity begins. It is all endless and all one.
    • P. L. Travers, as quoted in Sticks and Stones : The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter (2002) by Jack Zipes
  • There is no life I know
    that compares to pure imagination
    Living there you'll be free
    if you truly wish to be

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 386-87.
  • Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty opium!
  • And castels buylt above in lofty skies,
    Which never yet had good foundation.
  • Es ist nichts fürchterlicher als Einbildungskraft ohne Geschmack.
  • Build castles in Spain.
    • George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum (1651). Lors feras chastiaus en Espaigne. Guillaume de Lorris—Roman de la Rose. 2452. Et fais chasteaulx en Espaigne et en France. Charles d'Orleans—Rondeau. Et le songer fait chasteaux en Asie. Pierre Grangoire—Menus Propos. Tout fin seullet les chasteaux d'Albanye. Le Verger d'Honneur.
  • Seem'd washing his hands with invisible soap
    In imperceptible water.
  • Delphinum appingit sylvis, in fluctibus aprum.
    • He paints a dolphin in the woods, and a boar in the waves.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), XXX.
  • Celui qui a de l'imagination sans érudition a des ailes, et n'a pas de pieds.
    • He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.
    • Joseph Joubert.
  • These are the gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the inspiration.
    • Junius, Letter VIII, To Sir W. Draper.
  • When I could not sleep for cold
    I had fire enough in my brain,
    And builded with roofs of gold
    My beautiful castles in Spain!
  • C'est l'imagination qui gouverne le genre humain.
    • The human race is governed by its imagination.
    • Napoleon I.
  • Castles in Spain.
    • Storer, Peter the Cruel, p. 280, ascribes the origin of this phrase to the time of Don Enrique of Spain, on account of his favors being lavishly bestowed before they were earned. Mercure Français. (1616). Given as source by Littré.
  • It is only in France that one builds castles in Spain.
    • Mme. de Villars, when made dame d'honneur to the wife of Philip V, of Spain, grandson of Louis XIV. of France.
  • I build nought els but castles in the ayre.
    • Thomas Watson, Poems. Arber's reprint, p. 82. See also Lyly, Mother Bombie, Act V, scene 3.
  • But thou, that did'st appear so fair
    To fond imagination,
    Dost rival in the light of day
    Her delicate creation.

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