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Imagine a world without imaginations. In terms of quality of life, you probably would not want to do that. In terms of your abilities, you can do it. You can do this imagining because human beings have what can be called ‘higher order’ imaginations. Our imaginations are able to work at a level of cognitive and creative engagement that makes us distinct as a species and provides the impetus and support for such activities as creative writing. That does not make us the only living things on the planet with the ability to propose, imagine, and create. Animals have imaginations and insects create. Birds, spiders, dolphins, mice, chimpanzees, octopuses, bees – the creative activities of other living things regularly astound us, not simply because of the creativity itself but perhaps also because we value creativity so much in ourselves. Our sometimes proprietorial sense with regard to the creative seems to stem from this fact; but, more positively, might arise not from wanting to deny the power of creativity in other living things but rather from the conflating of the concepts of creativity and of the imagination.
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Prof. Graeme Harper
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