Objectives: The article is devoted to the actual problem of the relation between the imaginary and the potential in the context of the philosophical theory of elements (primary elements). The aim of the work is to study the spontaneous nature of imagination. The category of possibility is involved for the ontological explication of the concept of elements. Methods: The study is conducted on the basis of the method of potentiation (developed, in particular, by M.N. Epstein), using the concept of the material-dynamic imagination of H. Bashlar presented in his famous elemental pentality. An attempt is made to combine the approaches of both thinkers with the goal of an ontological definition of the category of elements, as well as the identification of mechanisms for the interaction of elements that generate new spontaneous processes. Conclusions: The article analyzes the historical concepts of the elements, beginning with the natural philosophy of pre-Socratics, and also examines the attempts to revive the explanatory and prognostic potential of the archaic category of elements in modern philosophy and science. The possibility of the appearance of new primary elements appears as a result of the interaction and transformation of the basic elements. Imagination is that cognitive ability that operates according to the laws of potentiation of the elements. Application: The results can be used as a heuristic methodology in those areas of scientific knowledge and philosophy that are relevant to spontaneous processes in nature, society and in the anthropological dimension.