2016 – Most Philosophical 8th Grader in America
Ej Rorem, Texas.
Imagination or Knowledge: Which has a greater impact on society?
Society can be impacted in many ways, for better or for worse. Let’s examine the impacts of imagination and knowledge on society. Imagination can be used to create works of art or literature that have an immense emotional effect on the observer. The experience can significantly change a person’s perception of the world around them and leave its mark in the heart of the common man. No man is the same after reading a book or examining artwork of any kind. The heart and mind are forever different afterwords. The effect of imagination can also make a detrimental, yet equally powerful impact on the community it is unleashed on. Books and art are a powerful medium through which a thought can penetrate the mind and heart of an individual. There it can be allowed to seep into the deepest recesses of one’s soul, but whether to heal, inspire or poison is subjective, so an equal effect on society is not guaranteed.
Knowledge, on the other hand, is more physical in nature and effect. It can be sought out instead of conjured in the mind, and grants great power to its owner. Knowledge can be used to infer things about the world around us, or to protect oneself from a foolish decision. Knowledge can better equip societies to work, play, and behave in a way that is more efficient or beneficial to the self and society as a whole. Its effect is more uniform and, therefores, has a better chance of making a big impact on society, though usually not as deeply as imagination affects the individual.
Though both qualities are important in moving society, neither, alone or in slightly higher quantities than the other, are dominant over each other. Instead, they can be combined into something that truly pushes society forward: innovation. Innovation is where inspired dreams and potent knowledge are used to supplement each other and to create something truly impactful. Invention, discovery, yes, even philosophy are a combined effort of knowledge and imagination. We can see historically that every boom in progress, every earth-shattering war, every change in humanity is driven by innovation. Jules Verne’s writings foretold of wondrous machines, pieces of innovation born mostly from imagination, but drawing its strength from knowledge as well. Bill Gates’ software advances spawned from knowledge but was directed by imagination. Indeed, he who holds the capacity to blend fact with fantasy can cause huge changes in his community.
It is my resolution that neither knowledge nor imagination are here to assume dominance over each other, to claim in ignorance “I am superior! It is I alone who commands change in this world!”, but rather to be combined as a force for change. It is in this way we move forward. It is through innovation we fly. It is in innovation’s inspired presence that the individual, no, society, no, humankind soars to greater heights.
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