15 September 2014
Within the reading “ Possible Worlds: Why Do Children Pretend?” written by Alison Gopnik she uses real world examples, and critical thinking to analyze the theory that Knowledge and Imagination “go hand in hand”(181). Is it possible that without imagination our knowledge would be limited and vice versa. Gopnik uses the term counterfactual thinking which is the idea that humans can create different scenarios to determine the outcome of the possible worlds. She uses counterfactual thinking to help support her argument that imagination and knowledge work together. With the idea that imagination and knowledge go hand and hand. Within imagination and knowledge comes the power of counterfactual thinking and the use of overthinking. Could overthinking be due to an excess of knowledge that can prevent you from using your imagination? Imagination and knowledge give us the power to learn about the past, live in the present, and plan for the future.
If imagination is necessary in our everyday lives as Gopnik believes when she states “ Counterfactual thinking is absolutely pervasive in our everyday life and deeply affects our judgments, our decisions, and our emotions.” By this statement Gopnik is presenting the idea that counterfactual thinking, which allows us to think outside the box, is part of our everyday life and requires use of the imagination. The use of imagination can be prohibited by the power of overthinking which prevents us humans from counterfactual thinking because we are too occupied with what we believe are the facts. So therefor if imagination and knowledge go hand and hand there has to be an equivalent balance between each other because an imbalance would produce problems. An over use of imagination would not allow for oneself to learn about the past or make use out of facts, it would prevent us from using logistics to help better the future. Whereas an overuse of knowledge would not allow oneself to imagine the possibilities it would prevent the means of creativity and limit ideas to straight facts.
When Gopnik presents the idea of the Silver, and bronze medalist in the olympics, she portrays the idea that the Bronze medalist is happier than the Silver medalist because the Silver Medalist is thinking she was so close from being the best, whereas the bronze medalist is happy with her position because she wasn't fending for the gold. She states “ People are most unhappy when a desirable outcome seems to be just out of reach or to have just been missed”. (165) The main reason to why the Silver medalist would be upset is because she is over thinking and choosing the counterfactual story of what could've been. Which is making her feel miserable instead of looking at positive and realizing a lot worse could have gone wrong then getting second placed. Her use of overthinking causes her to psych herself out, because she will never be fully satisfied with herself if she is trying to achieve the so called impossible.
The idea that possible worlds can be imagined based on prior knowledge as Gopnik exhibits by stating “ Our ability to imagine possible worlds is closely tied to our ability to think casually” (172) Having a causal understanding for the topic that has arisen allows for the ability to make choices that go hand and hand with the possible outcomes. Which would explain the need of basic knowledge to imagine possibilities. When arguing with someone of a much higher intelligence about something imaginative, its much harder to relate with them because they tend to use their knowledge to point out the logistics of the argument and not look at the woulda-coulda-shouldas of the issue. When it comes down to it a person with a higher level of knowledge is more likely to look at the statistics then imagine the possible outcomes. Whereas a person with a broad imagination and little knowledge wont take into consideration the ability and logistics…