• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge; it shapes what we can know. Evaluate this claim with reference to different areas of knowledge.

Extracts from this document...


Alex Antezana 5/4/12 IB Theory of Knowledge Essay Word Count: 1598 ?The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge; it shapes what we can know?. Evaluate this claim with reference to different areas of knowledge. This statement pursues to make a claim that could buttress the epistemology of the modern world and depict the limits upon us as beings. Knowledge acquisition is an intricate process, constantly being changed, limited and influenced by many factors, and the ?truth? behind the knowledge we attain is often problematic depending on the different depictions of the ways of knowing being used. In this sense, though vocabulary communicates knowledge, it can also shape what we know because vocabulary does not encompass all aspects of the knowledge, missing the totality of reality. If there were no exhaustive knowledge of the underlying concepts and meanings of vocabulary, the knowledge that we can gain from the vocabulary would be inadequate. Although vocabulary can be exclusive and restricted, the absence of vocabulary does not imply the absence of knowledge. As we consider and examine the problems with vocabulary and knowledge acquisition, a critical knowledge problem arises: Is knowledge derived from new vocabulary (thus influencing our thoughts and behaviors), or is vocabulary developed as a mere response to new knowledge? ...read more.


of the examined thing is destroyed in the process of the examination. This destruction is inevitable when using logical analysis, as quality is an unquantifiable property. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis supports vocabulary shaping the way we behave and think. There are two components to the hypothesis; first, the ?strong? version which states that thoughts and behavior are determined and claims that the language we speak determines the way that you will interpret the work around you; second, the ?weaker? hypothesis states that language merely influences your thoughts about the real world (Language Acquisition). An example of vocabulary manipulating our thoughts is propaganda such as ?Rosie the Riveter? influencing women to take power and control their lives. Also, many politicians use loaded questions, glittering generalities and several other propaganda techniques in their political speeches to sway audiences into thinking like them. Language and our vocabulary provides a structure for thoughts, organizes our thoughts and enables one to communicate thoughts which in effect can influence thoughts by changing/ strengthening them through discussion (?Philosophy?). Does this imply that other cultures whose language does have not translations for concepts such as epistemology, quality, etc., mean they have not developed or though of those concepts yet, thus making them superior to us? ...read more.


Universalism is the idea that all independently created languages follow certain universal structures. This is supported through Noam Chomsky because he states that all language is innate thus all languages share a similar set of axioms (?Philosophy?). Finally, researchers also believe that ?linguistic events? (evidence about thought through language) must be compared independently to ?non-linguistic events? (evidence about thoughts gained through other means than language) before a correlation can be found. For example, an art piece does not have vocabulary on it but the mere sight of the image/ art piece translates and emotion or type of knowledge (Language Acquisition). Language acquisition varies from different ideologies and streams of thought, ranging from language determinism to innate language acquisition. The different modems of language acquisition play an integral role in the claim that vocabulary determines the way we think and behave. Vocabulary simply does not always restrict what we know or, vice versus. Language determinism and statements about vocabulary not encompassing all aspects of a concept favor the argument that vocabulary does shape the way we think. However, Thus, though there is validity in the claim, the knower must be aware of the limitations of the claim and the fact that knowledge can be acquired without the words or symbols we already have like universalism and translatability of certain concepts. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. TOK essay "role of language in areas of knowledge"

    It includes visual arts and also literature. In this sense these two are diverse, and the answer to the titles question can be completely different altogether. When thinking of visual arts, such as painting, sculpture, photography, language as a part of them does not come to mind at all.

  2. How do I know what is right and what is wrong?

    On the other hand, my mother and her morals also played a big part in influencing the morals I have today. My mother unlike my father is non-religious and provided me with a different set of morals. My mother experienced "poverty" first hand when she first arrived in Canada, and

  1. Meditations on First Philosophy

    be established that this pronouncement "I am, I exist" is necessarily true every time I utter it or conceive it in my mind." Therefore he has to consciously have the thought of thinking that he exists in order to be real.

  2. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now ...

    Smart phones as example, they are the upgraded versions of mobile phones that previously released to public such as folder phone, slide phone, and bar phone. The first smart phone ?Simon? is designed by IBM Company in 1992 and is exhibited in the COMDEX (Computer Dealers' Exhibition)

  1. Can we know when to trust our emotions in the pursuit of knowledge? Consider ...

    What do we feel when we see a spider? The very image of the spider fills us with an emotion of disgust and within twinkling of a second we kill it although we know that it is not a tarantula.

  2. To what extent can we rely on our sense perception to interpret knowledge through ...

    These may be plausible answers to why Emilio?s painting appears like this especially since young children do not understand the concept of religion well enough to draw and express about it. Yet, Emilio is a different child. He is blessed with a special gift not all people have.

  1. Free Will and Determinism

    Additionally it was said that this chemical imbalance could be traced through the individual?s genotype and derive that this imbalance was due to a mutation in the X chromosome. With that being said, the control of human behavior in terms of the free will and determinism debate comes to a breakpoint.

  2. With references to two areas of knowledge discuss the way in which shared knowledge ...

    shared knowledge shaping personal knowledge, in light of the bandwagon fallacy, is through looking at the area of knowledge of history. Historian Jacob Burckhardt has said that ?history is the most unscientific of the sciences? since it an investigation of ?what one age finds most remarkable in another? (qtd Kitsch 140).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work