Exploring the Social Imagination

Monday, May 4, 2015

Living in your own Imagination ~ What does that mean?

"All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations,"... Isaiah 65:2 

Firstly, what does it mean to live in your own imagination? For social psychologist George H. Mead, it  meant to be anti-social or to be unable to engage in social interaction as in being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes as in to see the world or imagine how someone else might see it if you could be in their shoes. This is difficult to do since most people are self absorbed and thinking firstly of themselves.  For Mead and psychologists today, it means to have the condition of lack of empathy which is both a cognitive and social dysfunction as much as it can be recognized as a serious neurological problem.

However, Charles H. Cooley saw living in your own imagination as something more inescapable and in fact the only way we live; society exists in the locus of the mind. He meant that all social relationships 'social imaginations' live there and only there. Didn't Luke write that the Kingdom is within. So, how can we understand what is meant by pursuing your own imaginations? We can imagine that by doing such, there is no kingdom within, nothing greater or more than your own self. That is no kingdom. Through social interaction we grow our social imagination and kingdom within.

Cooley asked what makes up a society. He focused on the relationship between the individual in the larger unity of the society as one and the same. How? He viewed society and the individual as one since they cannot exist without one another. Society has a strong impact on the individual behavior and vice versa. He went as far to say that an imaginary friend can be as real inn the locus of the mind ...part of the kingdom within, as real as any person can be in a social reality = social imagination. In sum, it for Cooley, for God's Kingdom, still comes down to how we treat others, how we interact with a person real or imaginary that builds up or breaks down our social imagination into detached fragments.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator (Ro. 1:20-26).

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