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From dinosaurs to anthropoid apes is imagination an evolutionary adaptation?


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Being able to imagine something that isn't visible or hasn't already happened is a very important part of our evolution. It allows us to predict what may occur in various situations and prepare accordingly. It allows us to see tigers in the shadows, and while we might often be wrong, being right on those few occasions there really is a tiger in the dark let imagination be passed on to future generations.

 

Imagination might well go hand in hand with higher intelligence. It's hard to imaging how being smart without it would be as successful.

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Being able to imagine something that isn't visible or hasn't already happened is a very important part of our evolution. It allows us to predict what may occur in various situations and prepare accordingly. It allows us to see tigers in the shadows, and while we might often be wrong, being right on those few occasions there really is a tiger in the dark let imagination be passed on to future generations.

 

Imagination might well go hand in hand with higher intelligence. It's hard to imaging how being smart without it would be as successful.

I guess the ability to imagine effective intelligence without imagination wasn't evolutionarily advantageous.
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The more I think about it (lol), the more I wonder if high intelligence and imagination aren't inseparable.

 

I posted on this several months ago, this idea has intrigued and occupied my thoughts on many occasions over the years.

 

 

 

I have often imagined that first moment when our very early and possibly pre-verbal ancestors became aware of the concept of yesterday, today and tomorrow. I would like to see experiments of some sort, its probably not possible, but to know if an elephant or chimp has any concept of past or present would be to me a defining difference between us and them. Not that they remember what they learned but that it was a place and time in the past.

 

And with man that past/present ability makes way for experiences of regret and hope that could develop into primitive religion and then into philosophy. I have debated whether past/present/future would need to be in place or would it have developed in tandem with language as simply a tool they constructed to communicate more clearly. It would seem to be a natural development in language to refer to, for example, what happened on a hunt, and then extend those "stories" out over years.

 

This to me is possibly the driver of our brain evolution. Those who could communicate and imagine the images in stories and use that information could understand the world around them better and improve their chances to survive. This could be the engine that would progress brain development quickly.

 

 

 

I could see it being almost inevitable that once the concept of the past is understandable, a hunter injured for example, would contemplate that traumatic moment and feel the regret of the mistake. He would possibly reexamine the events leading up to the accident searching for a answer to his regret. These experiences would lead to either fear or hope for tomorrow depending on the severity of his wounds and his knowledge of the fate of others with similar injuries.

 

If the injured had been considered one of importance this could be quite traumatic for all those involved. This would likely create fertile grounds for superstition and the need to anticipate the possible dangers lying in wait for them tomorrow. Its an inevitable byproduct of increasing brain size. The increase of imagination that visualizes the stories with increasing complexity would also drive the superstition that would increasingly be included in those stories.

 

Those that can process this flow of information and apply it to survival would likely pass their more advantageous brain and possibly even their cultural "education system" of language and stories on to their offspring. This may not be the standard model of evolution, it is one that has an internal mechanism of an information feedback creating an accelerated development of brain size in human ancestors.

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