I see lots of posters and pictures online of Einstein regarding the following quote:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution

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    I've been reading too much politics. I read immigration instead of imagination.
    – user11643
    Sep 18, 2017 at 15:36
  • @fredsbend Did that too. This was a confusing comment for about 10 seconds
    – yitzih
    Sep 18, 2017 at 15:51
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    There's also an apocryphal story about Einstein not knowing his own phone number - "Why should I memorize something when I know where to find it?" Sep 19, 2017 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


It appears that Einstein did in fact say this on multiple occasions, but most notably in his 1931 book Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms.

At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason. When the eclipse of 1919 confirmed my intuition, I was not in the least surprised. In fact, I would have been astonished had it turned out otherwise. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.

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    It is important to note that this is most likely a commentary on epistemology rather than an argument for pursuing a liberal arts degree. Like many quotes by Einstein, this quote can easily be taken out of context, so +1 for adding the sentence regarding the scientific application. Sep 18, 2017 at 14:53
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    @SF. assuming imagination is set at birth. That is not necessarily true.
    – Kent Bull
    Sep 18, 2017 at 18:51
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    @SF. I think you can argue imagine is also something that you can practice. The difference is, with age comes the "knowledge" of the world. It becomes harder to imagine things when you already know from experience what should happen, why it happens, etc. That's not to say it cannot be learned though. It's really not hard to imagine things when you try; just as you age you get caught up in reality and forget to do so.
    – JMac
    Sep 18, 2017 at 18:58
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    It's interesting to note here that Einstein does not seem to be discussing arbitrary imagination of fantasies. Rather, he is describing the act of putting forth ideas few people (if any) have taken seriously, drawing them to their logical conclusions, and then evaluating them against evidence.
    – jpmc26
    Sep 18, 2017 at 22:12
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    Do not forget that a lot of Einstein's work was in fact also researched by several other scientists. What Einstein did was mostly approach the problem from a previously uncommon point of view. Thus he was able to shed new light on an existing problem and get to a creative solution that others could not imagine. This is what he intended for when he adressed imagination. Knowledge can only get you so far as your knowledge goes. If you can imagine other ways of thinking about a scientific problem, you can reach a different conclusion than someone who is incapable of thinking outside the box.
    – Adwaenyth
    Sep 19, 2017 at 14:30

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