Imagination: A Tool with Potential
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This thesis deals with imagination as a tool in light of two academic disciplines: philosophy and education. In the history of philosophy, imagination appears as an intentional tool for cognizing, and in education, the child’s self-generated, imaginative activity serves as an integrative tool for cognitive processes and for self-awareness. The use of imagination in the history of philosophy reveals time-sensitive stages of differentiated, imaginative activity and intentionality. A similar time-organism of imaginative activity occurs in the developing child. Both time processes point to an evolving but de-linearized becoming human (Karl Koenig), which imply an evolutionary perspective of consciousness. This becoming human establishes itself in times of crisis and windows of opportunity, most obvious in child development. Similar relationships of opportunity and crisis are perceived in scientific research and in quantum physics. My background for this enquiry is education. In observing how educators face the challenge of declining academic skills in the global competitiveness of “knowledge as wealth” paradigm (Government of Canada), we see in the educational context the relative one-sightedness of causal thinking and information technology. This priority has undermined other modes of cognition. What is important beyond formal, abstract modes are empathy and interpersonal functioning skills that require imaginative activity. For education to fulfill its role in the midst of present cultural shifts, it must review its broader mission of culturalization. It must replace the present curricular-based school system with a postmodern pedagogy of whole child education. Kieran Egan’s imaginative education and Rudolph Steiner’s education towards freedom, both observe the child’s own time-sensitive cognitive processes in light of human becoming. In detailing their approach, imaginative activity accounts as an integral learning tool for Egan, and further stabilizes and harmonizes the development of the self in Steiner’s Waldorf Education.