Imagination and Courage

Imagination is a mysterious mediator that operates, at least in part, somewhere between intellect and our sensory apparatus. It resides deeply and moves freely among the labyrinths of internalized metaphors with which we apprehend and thus comprehend the world. Striving to meet experience with meaningful response, imagination appears to exist of its own volition, and yet the experience of our species most creative members suggests that imagination works best when its services are expected. We apply our imaginations to those things we truly care about. Necessity as the mother of invention rings true. Albert Einstein deemed imagination more important than knowledge, something to which his work attests. If knowledge were represented by a nail, imagination would be the hammer that puts it to use.

Courage is an attribute we apply to the individual, even though the process of defining courage is a socially collective effort. We deem those things courageous which others are likely to agree are courageous. It should not be lost on us that imagination and courage often represent a hand-in-glove response to a particular problem or situation. We often act imaginatively in perilous situations. Courage seems to be an article of character taken to a higher level, as if it is character’s response to stress.

When you begin to think of imagination and courage as being closely related, the merger of the two takes the guise of a life force, part of our emotional stance towards living. When we think of a person who is both imaginative and courageous, for example, we are likely to have vivid ideas not only about how that person would act in times of crisis but also about the way that person would behave in the face of everyday life. It is only when people are truly imaginative and courageous that they seem to be compelling individuals. We see that those with imagination and courage are truly alive and are living their lives to the fullest. Then the question becomes, am I living an imaginative and courageous life? And if not, why not?

Excerpt from the book, Existential Aspirations: Reflections of a Self-Taught Philosopher by Charles D. Hayes.

Charles D. Hayes is a self-taught philosopher and one of America’s strongest advocates for lifelong learning. In addition to Existential Aspirations, he has authored books including September University: Summoning Passion for an Unfinished Life, The Rapture of Maturity: A Legacy of Lifelong Learning, and Beyond the American Dream: Lifelong Learning and the Search for Meaning in a Postmodern World which received recognition by the American Library Association’s CHOICE magazine as one of the year’s most outstanding academic books.