• 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...

Introduction

7. ?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. There are a number of knowledge issues implicit within this question. Firstly, it implies that it is what we can know that is shaped by language, not how we do know. The connotations are that, for example, if you don?t know computer-related vocabulary, you will not be able to know about computer-technology. An alternative example would be that the vocabulary we use limits our knowledge, so that, for example if your language had only the word ?stubborn? for the concept of determination, you would not understand that determination could also be viewed more positively. This view can be criticised as, if it were true, we would not be able to learn anything new. The idea that vocabulary shapes what we can know, then, may be seen as an erroneous idea. It is more likely to shape how we know, but not even how we can know as, by learning a different language for instance, I could easily change my vocabulary and thus expand the way I think and know. ...read more.

Middle

Besides conveying the idea that he is writing, the metaphor suggests that his composition is a healing process to him. Consequently, language affects how we know. The statement in the title states a view similar to that of someone who would support the Sapir-Whorf theory, a hypothesis that the language we use influences the way we think and therefore how we know[2]. The deterministic form of this hypothesis implies that our language determines and thus limits what we can know, whereas a more moderate Whorfianism implies that language influences the way we know, but not what we can know. For instance, it could be argued by a strong supporter of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that the metaphor ?chair leg? in English means that English-speakers will not understand that chairs are not alive. However, this is not true. Although we use this metaphor, people understand that chairs are not living, implying that language does not restrict knowledge. I would argue that the connotations of a word such as ?chair leg? do not limit knowledge, as this would imply that we could not learn new languages that have different words for ?chair leg?: we would not understand the new concepts. ...read more.

Conclusion

A poll asking if we should ?protect? ?unborn children? would be biased, and thus language can affect the human sciences. The implications are that the human sciences can be affected by language, but wholly are less affected than an area like art, as the empirical aspect of the subject means language does not always affect knowledge. The statement made in the question is an important one. Vocabulary has been shown to influence the way we know, from the knowledge we hold about different cultures to our ethical principles. However, the view that it shapes what we can know, suggesting that vocabulary significantly limits knowledge, seems fallacious, as it would not let us learn anything new. Vocabulary can occasionally impact how we know, but sometimes it does not. Furthermore, not all language is vocabulary, the importance of non-verbal language, for example sign language, challenges the role of vocabulary in communication, so that one would have to examine the problems of communication within these types of languages to deduce their impact on knowledge. We must also use various other ways of knowing, such as reason and perception to determine whether our vocabulary limits our knowledge, and hence to gain that knowledge through those other ways of knowing. It is only in this way that we will understand the limits of language itself and maybe even strive to remedy them. ...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. What is the role of sense perception in the various areas of knowledge, for ...

    Another person heard about the events that were happening and wrote it down. The two sources may be similar in some ways but completely different as well. This is because what was perceived by sight is different from what was perceived by hearing what another person said.

  2. Does Language Determine or Limit Thought?

    We think in language. Therefore or thoughts are constrained by the frame that language provides. Philosophy. If you do not have a word for a specific feeling, emotion, idea in your language, then you cannot experience that emotion, feeling, idea.

  1. How can we know when we have made progress in the search of knowledge?

    The method is made up of three steps: observation, reason, and experiment. Although the scientific method can determine if something is scientific or not, it is best when the experiments are repeated numerous amounts of times and check independently by other people that observed it.

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

    It is subjective, much like Art its subjection is its greatest strongpoint and allows it to constantly be correct. Imagination triumphs also for the mere fact we imagine what we are later to know through what we desire to know.

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

    Emotions are such feelings that can be affected by our beliefs. I feet history is a field of knowledge where emotions can get the better of reason, and hence create a superficial gulf between realty and appearance. No historian is equipped with the shied of Achilles, which is impenetrable to the arrows of bias, racism, and prejudice.

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

    Such as in the case of Daniel Sickles who did not deny killing his wife?s lover but claimed he had done it as a product of uncontrollable rage and had been acquitted by the jury (Covey 1642).

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

    abilities and strategies of overcoming certain incidents repeatedly by using some sorts of methods to get accustomed before an unforeseen event occurs.

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

    When a baby comes out of the womb and steps into this world, he doesn?t know what clouds are, fruits are, colours are, plants are. He doesn?t know what this whole world is. He imagines his own world, full of fantasies.

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