Pragmatic Imagination is a small book (html ) by Ann Pendleton-Jullian and John Seely Brown that helps navigating our broadly connected, rapidly changing, and radically contingent world. It begins from an assumption that agency in the world today requires a productive entanglement of imagination and action. It presents a framework for unpacking the imagination based on six core principles.
This book is the last chapter of a larger work called Design Unbound: Designing for Emergence in a White Water World, which provides a tool set for agency and impact in our world today.
# Features The authors refer to the following as principles, but it is hard to understand why. We call it features (or dimensions) of pragmatic imagination.
1. The imagination serves diverse cognitive processes as an entire spectrum of activity.
2. The imagination both resolves and widens the gap between what is unfamiliar - new/novel/strange - and what is known. This gap increases along the spectrum from left to right. Within the range of abductive reasoning, there is a shift from using the imagination for sense-making to sense-breaking, where one first widens the gap and then resolves it with the imagination.
Imagination is its own form of courage.
3. The Pragmatic Imagination pro-actively imagines the actual in light of meaningful purposeful possibilities. It sees opportunity in everything.
4. The Pragmatic Imagination sees thought and action as indivisible and reciprocal. Therefore it is part of all cognitive activity that serves thought and action for anticipating, and thought and action for follow-through.
5. The imagination must be instrumentalized to turn ideas into action - the entire spectrum of the imagination. And the generative/poïetic/sometimes-disruptive side of the spectrum is especially critical in a world that requires radically new visions and actions.
6. Because the imagination is not under conscious control, we need to understand, find, and design ways to set it in motion and scaffold it for play and purpose.
# See also
abductive reasoning add more related concepts