The Gerontological Imagination provides an integrative overview of the scientific study of aging. Although investigators from many disciplines study aging, concerns have been raised about the intellectual coherence of gerontology precisely because it draws from and contributes to a wide array of disciplines. Biologists, psychologists, and sociologists may claim an interest in gerontology, but do they have a common image of aging or a set of principles to guide their research? This book develops a paradigm for the study of aging by articulating and integrating six axioms related to causality, life course analysis, multifaceted change, heterogeneity, accumulation, and ageism. The proposed paradigm provides an efficient way to identify essential ideas, findings, models, and theories across multiple disciplines. Gerontology examines aging across multiple systems and the interplay of factors that shape adaptation. Illustrations are drawn from fields such as biology, epidemiology, genetics, medicine, psychology, sociology, and zoology. The axioms are best viewed as a gestalt for the intellectual work of research on aging—and how to optimize the aging experience.