Imagination is Better than Knowledge

I was eating a bento at Mini Stop, the nearest convenience store to my house. Outside, I saw a man getting out of his car and he was wearing a t-shirt with English on it. I always pay close attention to shirts, signs…anything that has the western alphabet on it. Why? Because here in Japan, you never know what you’ll get. You get weird sayings, funny sayings, crude sayings, you name it. I’m sure I may have mentioned it in some post, but I saw some kid wearing a shirt that said (and I kid you not) “Asshole Buddy.” He was a good student, he just didn’t know what he was wearing. Sometimes people don’t know what they’re wearing.

In this case, I was expecting something totally funny or weird, but instead I got something thought provoking. The man’s shirt said, in all caps: “IMAGINATION IS BETTER THAN KNOWLEDGE.”

I sat there eating my rice, really thinking hard about which one is “better.” I wanted actually choose one instead of saying “Hmm…well, that’s a tough question,” and leaving it be. After about ten minutes of deliberating, I decided that the shirt was true. I think imagination is better because in many cases, it’s something that can’t be taught. A creative mind can bend the world’s rules (within reason) to suit their thinking. For example. have you ever flown in an airplane? Well, now, there’s a lot more science behind aviation…but it all started with two crazy ass brothers (Wright Bros.) trying to fly their flying contraptions off of stuff. Now, because someone imagined that mankind would someday be able to fly, it became a reality.

Now, I DO think knowledge is EXTREMELY important. Knowledge is the main way that we, as humans, can better ourselves. I strongly believe in acquiring knowledge…it’s a constant endeavor for me. But I think my business heroes have some influence on my imagination choice. There are businessmen that may not have had the talent or the knowledge, but because of their vision, their imagination if you will, they achieved incredible things, despite all kinds of odds.

It’s time for a friendly debate! In the battle of imagination vs knowledge, which side do you take?

Let’s make some ground rules first. You have to choose a side (I know it’s tough) and say why. Please feel free to debate with other commenters.

I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts :) ,

Donald Ash

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  • Ryan McGuinness

    Its difficult to pick a side, I enjoy logic based things like Shogi, chess, but love imaginary and vivid things in books, manga, anime, video games etc. I think a balance of the two is perfect. Like LOST for example! I’d normally sit on the fence but if we had to choose; I think imagination as it can lead to knowledge (Maybe only knowledge, in the subject area. e.g. The Naruto universe. However useless that knowledge may be, knowledge is knowledge :) )

    Any chance of an article on Shogi? :D

  • I’m a firm believer that all knowledge is worth having.. brownie points if you know that quote. However.. as an author, creativity and imagination win out on this one. Imagination is what creates knowledge. ;)

  • *squee!* Donald~ I’m going to my seminar in Toronto on the 4th!

  • Ceci

    Interesting question and one I have a hard time answering. Knowledge often leads to enhanced imagination. Profound creativity takes mastery of a skill or knowledge set. (Practice your scales (for me lately it’s kana/kanji)!) Even so, imaginative people will start putting what few pieces they’ve mastered so far together in unique ways. In my mind, I see a recursive feedback loop here. Imagination creates the desire to master the technical and mastery of the technical enhances imagination.

    I normally wouldn’t link to something else on another person’s blog, but I stumbled on this picture of creativity today and it just seems like a perfect fit. How nifty that you made this post on the same day! :) Brilliance is everywhere and I believe it’s in everyone. Most of us just don’t know it about ourselves.

  • Roger Starkey

    Knowledge is just a step on a scale that goes from simple recognition to wisdom. It’s not really possible to say that any level or area of human ability is more/less worthy than the other.

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