149 – Like Sight, or Touch, or Hearing, Imagination is an Organic Sense …

According to Wikipedia, an acceptable definition of a Sense is A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted. [1] Part of the definition also includes the fact that besides the traditional sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, there are other senses like the sense of temperature, direction, pain, balance, position, and movement of one’s own body.

Although we perceive reality through our senses, we know how limited they are in their narrow boundaries. The best example of these limitations is the tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum we can sense (see the chart below). We also know that other species perceive reality with higher intensity, capacity, and detail than we do. And so, to compensate for our limitations, we have been evolving our sense of Imagination into a tool to discover not just our world but beyond.

quality of a light source


Imagination, like the other senses, is organic; it is the result of the link between neuronal activity, environmental fluctuations, and the life history of the beholder.

Imagination is the ability to produce and simulate novel objects, sensations, and ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses. This definition is, to me, an affirmation of the erroneous Cartesian separation of the mind from the body.

Mind and body are inseparable aspects of the phenomenon we experience as the Self. The mind can only sense the world through its body, and the body can only imagine the world through its mind. Any new sensation, image, idea, can be imagined only through the interactions between the body and the mind as the Self unfolds amid a world that, although dictated by ancestry, is illuminated by new experiences and new discoveries. Einstein, for instance, could not have discovered his famous theory without his piercing and curious mind, nor without a propitious environment, nor without the science available to him.

We discover. We do not create.

But because the mind is frequently synonymous with thought – the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on inside our heads – and because one of its key attributes is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access, it is easy for us to believe that what the mind imagines is separate from the body.

Imagination is the indissoluble bond with which mind and body mold a self endowed with a degree of freedom to direct its own evolution; a bond that gives us a collective image of the world while making us capable to alter both the image and the world; a bond that can be deeply affected or damaged by illness, decease, or catastrophic events that rupture or impair nervous connectivity; a bond that can weave the connections that let us discover possibilities beyond our limitations; a bond that although forged by ancestral traits is amazingly malleable.

Imagination is clearly intrinsic in Nature – the unending creativity of flowers, the reiteration of the Double Helix with an openness for transformation, the reduction of the entire chemical makeup of the Universe into a mere 94 natural elements, [2] the boundless adaptability of Life in its seemingly unending manifestations.

Surpassing boundaries, Imagination is our most far-reaching sense. But it cannot exist without sensing the environment, nor without a life history, nor without neuronal interactions.

Imagination is organic.

Chart source: Google.com/visible light spectrum

Revised June 2021   

[1] Excerpts in italics below are from Wikipedia

[2] The rest of the elements are synthetic

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