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Imagination, illusion and delusion


  • Brian Loasby

    (University of Stirling)


This paper is intended to explore the twin propositions that the ability to create new ideas is a crucial factor in human progress, but that there is no reason why what is imagined, either as an explanation of existing phenomena or as an innovation, should be correct or feasible; indeed most products of the imagination are illusions, for some fundamental reasons to be examined almost immediately. Therefore human progress depends on both the encouragement of imagination to generate variety and on efficient selection from the products of imagination. In addition I wish to argue that illusion is not merely the opportunity cost of imagination; some illusions may have important beneficial consequences, rather than, or as well as, the undesirable or even dangerous consequences which are implied in the word 'delusion'.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Loasby, 2009. "Imagination, illusion and delusion," SCEME Working Papers: Advances in Economic Methodology 027/2009, SCEME.
  • Handle: RePEc:sti:wpaper:027/2009

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    imagination; illusion; delusion;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology

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