Imagination Is The Driving Force Behind Evolution

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Imagination Is The Driving Force Behind Evolution
Imagination Is The Driving Force Behind Evolution
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Video: Are Mutations really the Driving Force behind Darwinian Evolution? - Dr. Kevin Anderson 2023, February

Imagination is the driving force behind evolution

When there is no imagination, everything around is dull, like late autumn. And when a global cataclysm occurs, like today, and they have nothing to imagine tomorrow, overstress arises, which depletes the nervous system, pulls down the immune system. They become easy victims of any external influence, including infection …

We rule the world because no other animal

is capable of believing in things that exist only in imagination

- gods, state, money or human rights.

Yuval Noah Harari

Without imagination, nowhere. Thanks to such a seemingly frivolous thing like imagination, the human species survives in difficult times. And not only survives, but achieves unprecedentedly comfortable conditions for itself. But that's not all. Psychological well-being is unthinkable without imagination …

From weakest to top of the hierarchy

Our distant ancestor had imagination for a reason many thousands of years ago. Without him, he could not have survived in the primeval savannah.

It was very difficult for primitive people, who did not have fangs or claws, did not have the speed of a cheetah or the strength of a lion, to compete with animals for a place in the sun: to get their own food and not become it themselves.

75,000 years ago, our ancestor was the weakest in the savannah, on the verge of extinction from hunger. The human population was about 2000 individuals, the descendants of which are modern mankind. In science, this period is usually called the "bottleneck effect".

Besides us, Homo Sapiens, there were seven more now known species of people. After a short time by historical standards, our species destroyed all other species of people, exterminated most of the animal species on the planet and broke out to the first place in the food hierarchy. How did we manage to do this?

The language of fiction and civilization

Through the process of natural selection, animals have evolved over millions of years, adapting to environmental conditions. Homo Sapiens, which is on the verge of extinction, did not have such a time. Therefore, unlike the animal world, our ancestor began to evolve not physically, but mentally. This is impossible without imagination.

During the cognitive revolution, Sapiens acquired the ability to think and communicate using spoken language. It was neither the first language on earth, nor the first sound language. Many animals, including monkeys, communicate using voice signals.

The uniqueness of the language of our ancestors was “the ability to communicate things that we have never seen, heard or smelled … Legends, myths, gods, religions emerged as a result of the cognitive revolution … The ability to discuss fiction is the most amazing property of the Sapiens language. This language can therefore be called the language of fiction”[1].

The level of civilization is determined by the level of cooperation with strangers. The language of fiction made it possible to create a common mythology, which “endowed the Sapiens with an unprecedented ability for flexible cooperation in large teams” [1]. As the development progressed, the myths that united an increasing number of people changed.

Our civilization would not exist without imagination. Not only because we would not be able to cooperate at the required level. Without imagination, it is impossible to invent anything - from the first tools of labor to the collider. To create a new one, you must first imagine this new thing, imagine. “The main function of imagination is the ideal representation of the result of activity before it is actually achieved, anticipation of something that does not yet exist. Associated with this is the ability to make discoveries, find new ways, ways to solve emerging problems. Conjecture, intuition leading to discovery are impossible without imagination”[2].

All great scientists and inventors had a developed imagination. Take, for example, the realization of an ancient human dream.

Evolution of one dream of humanity

Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is

limited, while imagination embraces everything

in the world, stimulates progress and is the source of its evolution.

Albert Einstein

The idea of ​​flying in the air originated in humans many thousands of years ago. Even the ancient Egyptians have drawings and sculptures of people with wings. The same images would later appear among the Greeks and Romans. The legends of the peoples of the world reflect the same desire. For example, the flying carpet is present in Russian and Middle Eastern fairy tales.

Imagination photo
Imagination photo

This dream remained a utopia until Leonardo Da Vinci, who stood out even against the background of the geniuses of the Renaissance. There is no such person who would not have heard of "Mona Lisa". We perceive Leonardo primarily as the greatest artist. But the "universal man" himself considered himself primarily a scientist and engineer.

He was interested in mechanics, mathematics, architecture, the environment. In the 15th century, Leonardo Da Vinci described the valve of the right ventricle of the heart, discovered that the age of a tree is determined by the annual rings, created a camera obscura, designed canals and dams. It is considered to be his inventions: a prototype of a tank, a diving suit or a spacesuit, a self-propelled cart (a prototype of a car). Many other engineering ideas are captured in the drawings, drawings and sketches of the master. His flying vehicles are of the greatest interest.

Leonardo, inspired by the flight of birds, dreamed of aeronautics. His drawings and sketches show for the first time how a flying machine can be built. Leonardo Da Vinci worked on the device of various types of aircraft. He created the first ornithopter, propeller, parachute. The ingenious inventor, with the power of imagination looking many centuries ahead, due to the weak technologies of that time, never realized his ideas. The dream of Leonardo Da Vinci about aeronautics was realized five centuries later by Igor Sikorsky.

Mister Helicopter

An important role in the life of the future aircraft designer was played by her mother, who devoted her life to raising five children. Most of all she was interested in the art and inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci. The mother's hobbies fell on fertile soil. The sound baby loved to listen to my mother's stories about the infinity of the universe and mysterious stars. But the stories about Leonardo Da Vinci and his idea to create an “iron bird” - a flying machine that was lifted into the air with the help of a powerful propeller - amazed his childhood imagination most of all.

Mother instilled in the future great aircraft designer a love of music and literature. Little Igor's handbook was Jules Verne's novel Robur the Conqueror, which describes an aircraft that vaguely resembles a helicopter. Once, after reading this novel, the boy dreamed that he was on board a flying ship, from the windows of which the sea and an island with palm trees could be seen. This dream will come true in 30 years - all this he will see on board the amphibious aircraft he designed.

After graduating from high school, the parents assigned Igor to the Naval Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg, where their eldest son was already studying. It was a privileged educational institution, but Igor was not attracted to a military career, even if it was related to the sea. He kept track of all the technical innovations, during off-hours he designed something in the training workshops. The desire to build and fly airplanes finally matured after the appearance in the newspapers of reports about the first flights of the Americans - the Wright brothers.

Igor Sikorsky drops out of college and devotes his further life to the realization of his dreams (you can read more about it here).

Sikorsky created about 15 types of aircraft. After his inventions, multi-engine aviation began to develop. From 1939 he switched to the design of helicopters. In 1967, the world's first flight across the Atlantic was made on Sikorsky's helicopters, and in 1970 - across the Pacific Ocean, albeit with air refueling. His inventions marked the beginning of a new era, and the nickname "Mister Helicopter" was assigned to the designer.

A scandal in a noble family, or is creativity possible without imagination?

So, the scientist and the inventor need imagination. Does an artist need it? At first glance, the answer is obvious. But, apparently, not all. At least in art schools, they work on technique, not on developing the imagination of students. What's the result?

In the early 2000s, a wave of counterfeits swept the art market. Counterfeits even end up at Christie's and Sotheby's auctions, as their quality is so high that even experts find it difficult to unequivocally judge the authorship of the works presented to their court. A huge scandal erupted in May 2000 when the auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's published their catalogs. Both houses offered buyers the same painting - "A Vase of Flowers" by Paul Gauguin. Each house was confident that it was exhibiting the original.

Of course, copyist artists make money this way. But a legitimate question arises: why the owners of such an excellent technique do not create their own pictures, because no money can replace the implementation. The answer is simple: they lack imagination for their own creativity. Compare their fate with the fate of, for example, Salvador Dali, who spoke in his characteristic shocking manner about imagination as follows: "If a person cannot imagine a horse galloping on a tomato, he is an idiot!"

Imagination is the driving force behind the evolution of photography
Imagination is the driving force behind the evolution of photography

Without imagination, there can be no creativity, and therefore culture, because the main instrument of culture - art - is impossible without creative imagination. Freud defined culture as "a mode of existence that humanity has chosen for its own preservation." Culture consolidates society, limits our growing dislike. Society is not viable without culture.

In the past, people with advanced imaginations promoted science and culture. What has changed in our technological age?

From accounts to high-tech

The industrial revolution of the 19th century, the information revolutions of the 20th century replace each other. Everything goes to increase, complication and acceleration. The value of a developed imagination is also increasing.

Half a century ago, children at school were taught to count on accounts. Modern life cannot be imagined without computers and high-speed Internet - an additional reality that creates an absolute connection between people.

Humanity is on the verge of a new technological breakthrough - robots and artificial intelligence. We didn’t have time to think about what this threatens us, and some even get scared as a new attack - the coronavirus. Nature is forcing humanity to unite, otherwise it will not be possible to cope with the epidemic. Only united humanity will be able to move into a new phase of development - the urethral one.

Strange as it may sound, but … a developed imagination can help us survive the pandemic.

Imagining the future

Forget for a while that you have glasses on your nose and autumn in your soul.

Isaac Babel

Man is the only one who perceives time. Moreover, the future is a priority for us over the present. We save ourselves today for tomorrow's sake. With uncertainty about the future, a person experiences stress, regardless of how well everything is at the moment.

People are afraid of the unknown: what awaits around the corner, behind a closed door, tomorrow. Horror films are built on this. Horror seizes the hero when, for example, he hears footsteps outside the door and does not know who it might be - Santa Claus with gifts or a maniac.

The future has not yet arrived, it can only be imagined. People who are able to imagine "beautiful far away" feel comfortable. But many cannot, they experience anxiety and infect others with it. Emotional contamination occurs. How to resist him?

People who are able to imagine tomorrow experience less stress. Their immune system is working well. Medicine has already recognized that a good mood stimulates immunity, and a depressed state and especially prolonged stress sharply reduce it.

There are known historical figures who did not get sick when there was a pestilence around. Everyone knows Nostradamus as a fortuneteller. Few people know that he was a genius doctor. Nostradamus treated people during the bubonic plague epidemic and did not get sick himself. Did he have a different biology? No, this phenomenon is associated with a different state of mind. The ability to have the highest immunity, all other things being equal. How can everyone else achieve this phenomenon?

Man perceives life sensually and consciously. Our senses have a form - imagination. One does not exist without the other: imagination does not exist without feelings, and feeling always creates an image.

People who, for one reason or another, do not have strong experiences: they are not developed sensually or do not allow themselves to express feelings due to false attitudes, there is no ability to imagine the future. Under normal circumstances, such people live a dull life.

When there is no imagination, everything around is dull, like late autumn. And when a global cataclysm occurs, like today, and they have nothing to imagine tomorrow, overstress arises, which depletes the nervous system, pulls down the immune system. They become easy victims of any external influence, including infection.

To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to develop imagination, sensuality. How to do it? A very simple recipe is reading classic literature. The time-tested written word excites vivid feelings, creates special associative rows. A word is a meaning, and for every meaning, every word we have an image. Images, imagination, sensuality and confidence in the future - that's all you need to resist stress.

When there is no imagination photo
When there is no imagination photo

Our distant ancestor survived in the primeval savanna with the help of imagination. A developed imagination will help to overcome the current transition period. In the near future, humanity expects a new world with possibilities that only people with a developed imagination can imagine.


1. Yuval Noah Harari. Sapiens. A Brief History of Humanity.

2. Skachkova DK To the question of the role of imagination in human cognition.

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