We Exist Only in Our Imaginations

The Cognitive Revolution allowed for large-scale cooperation because it allowed humans to imagine. This skill of imagination created systems that enabled groups that were too big to work together effectively before to come together into larger gatherings. It gave rise to collective ideas, such as the value of shells, unique rocks, gold and eventually currency. It enabled religions, customs, cultures and histories to be shared and remembered. It allowed individuals to interact with other individuals using only social cues as opposed to years of relationship building and personal experience. All of these constructs are imagined orders, things that don’t physically exist, like God, the Church, the State, and the economy, yet they have very real impacts on the way we live our lives. Beyond these are ideas like human rights, racial hierarchies, and environmentalism, anyone of us could say that we believe in one or more of these things and that they influence the way we live our lives. Furthermore, they influence the ways we treat each other, if I for example, believe in racial hierarchies, and you believe in human rights this is likely to put us at odds with one another, yet both are still imagined orders. 

Imagined orders are a prerequisite for the human study of science. The laws and facts studied by science are by no means imagined and they rule over the very real world interactions we have with our environment. However, even if humans failed to recognize gravity it would still have its effect on us and our surroundings. If we never realized that the sun is a massive ball of hydrogen and helium experiencing nuclear fission that we on the round earth rotate around with a slight axial tilt causing the seasons, we would still experience the snow of winter and wildfires of summer. The human study of science, unlike the facts uncovered by it, is an imagined order. Our tendency to explain what we do not understand, and our obsession with finding the correct answer comes from the imagined order of human knowledge. There is not any physical interactions that humans have with the understanding of the way our world works other than the ones that humans have created to understand the world.

2 thoughts on “We Exist Only in Our Imaginations

  1. It is absolutely fascinating that such a group of organisms could create such a defined and technical system to live in. We stand by rules set by our ancestors who lived a lifetime far in the pastime, and yet we only change these social constructions when we no longer deem them fit for society as a whole. Part one really reminded me of a philosophy class I took where we discussed reality, and if what we saw was real. This concept of reality is genuinely only defined by our own perceptions and interaction with our surroundings. What can be real to one person can be utterly un-thought of or a myth to someone on the other side of the earth, or someone sitting right next to you. Simply put, we are a group of beings who need to define their existence to make the reality in which they experience a truthful one.


  2. Hello Corrina!

    Your answer to the first question was pretty good, so I’m not going to comment on that. However, I would argue that the “laws and facts” we study are still predetermined by us. I think we call them laws and facts as a general term, but those terms are just to describe natural phenomena. Even phenomena is a term we use to describe what nature does! Honestly, I don’t think it would be right to find a way to describe natural order with our imagine order, the way we’re talking about it. Overall, I do agree with your presentation of the topic, though.


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