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Language as a Tool for Human Evolution

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THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE ESSAY: LANGUAGE AND KNOWLEDGE Question: How does the capacity to communicate personal experiences and thoughts through language affect knowledge? To what extent does knowledge actually depend on language: on the transmission of concepts from one person or generation to another, an on exposure of concepts or claims to public scrutiny? Language is, in my personal opinion, one of the most important ways of knowing when linked to sharing knowledge, as it is the one that helps us to share ideas and knowledge most. While sense perception relies on a single person's perception of the world around them, reason depends on pre-established order and logic, and emotion pertains primarily to a person's reaction to various situations; language is a way of knowing that links us as humans together, and allows us to exchange information and ideas so as to progress both independently and as a society. Language is practical only in certain situations if used only by one person for his or her own benefit, though it has a myriad of other uses if it is taken as a way of communicating and sharing information. It is a crucial way of knowing that is used in all of the areas of knowledge, allowing us to communicate efficiently and get our message across so as to avoid repetition and leave room for evolution. ...read more.


I personally frequently use spoken language to try and understand concepts and problems in mathematics. When I find myself confused over what approach to take when dealing with a problem or what the statement is asking me to find, I will generally try to read the problem out loud, analyze the mathematical terms used and, when necessary, redefine them in a way that I understand better. In an international environment where students have studied mathematics in a variety of different languages at different levels, many students for whom the language of learning is not their native language use a similar approach, as it helps them to better understand what is being asked of them. While this example shows some of the benefits of using language to gain further knowledge, it also shows some of the limitations of language as a way of knowing, and as a way of sharing knowledge and transmitting information; the constraint of different languages and the barriers that are created due to an international environment. Some languages lack the words needed to explain certain concepts, or have words that only describe a general term when something more specific is needed, or vice versa. For example, in Russian, there are two words for "blue", "cyinyeh" and "galoubaya"1, meaning respectively light and dark blue.2 In this situation, when translating from English ...read more.


By measuring our statements against other people's knowledge, we can root out some false claims and rectify others, which allows for knowledge to be passed on in a more truthful manner. It would be very difficult to test our knowledge if we did not have language to compare with those around us and understand their corrections to what we say. Language allows us to correct false statements or spread information that is accurate. Without language, it would be virtually impossible to share our understanding and allow it to grow so that we can develop. While there are some limitations to using language as a way of knowing, the benefits of it are far greater, as we can share and compare information with others, learn about the wonders of the world, inherit the knowledge of our ancestors and develop as a civilization. Language is more than just a means of communication; it is an essential element for all humans, and the way in which we can share our knowledge and understanding of the world with all. 1 In approximate phonetic pronounciation 2 Example drawn from class notes by Birgit Hauke, with additional use of personal knowledge 3 Wellington, Jerry. "Breaking the language barrier." TES Magazine May 1997. Accessed online at <http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=47576> ...read more.

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