Articulation: Creating New Knowledge
Brainstorming, social collaboration, and exposing yourself to exhilarating stimuli are all practical methods of ‘generating’ new knowledge - whatever that actually means. Their uses are empirically proven, personally experienced, scientifically documented, and everyday rehearsed across societies, peoples, and organizations. I for one, LOVE an incredible brainstorming session when conducted properly. The ‘ideas’ generated in these are often absolutely radical ludicrous, and insane, yet still imaginative and creative. Most are discarded, but occasionally that one enticing, unthought of, and sometimes simple idea shines itself forth amongst it’s either wild or gray counterparts as the gold nugget. Ironically, creatives generate a whole lot more of bad ideas than good (but so does everyone else too). One difference that sets them apart is that they tend to generate a lot more ideas than others. This isn’t to mention their different type of thinking - divergent thinking - too.
Yes, these methods are very useful. They’re easy to conduct (so to say) and can quickly yield results. They do ‘generate’ new knowledge - again, whatever that means - or rather, connect existing ideas. As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Job’s claim holds merit, but I don’t want to exactly go into the psychology of connecting ideas (connecting neurons) versus actually gaining new knowledge - again, whatever that means. I want to delve into a more fundamental - in fact, one of the most fundamental methods - of learning new knowledge. This method is more meaningful and profound than other method I know of, and I’d like to talk it about from experience but also in light of other brilliant minds and ideas I've been exposed to through personal study or school.
To Articulate: the act of coherently expressing something in verbal form. Articulation is powerful, fundamentally. The ability to speak and utter words creates, constitutes, and shapes reality around us. Your speech creates reality for you, and others.
Learning new words from reading, writing, and discussion, and then uttering those new words brings about new knowledge. It literally forges a new path of thought and not only lights a bulb in your mind that previously was unlit, but crafts the bulb by which the light is after illuminated. The ability to coherently speak your mind is a manifestation that you understand something clearly, thoroughly, and that you’ve made sense of your own scattered thoughts.
For the last few months, I’ve had this convoluted ball of ideas that somehow seem interconnected, yet in a way I couldn’t describe until I observed, and then practiced my own articulation. I asked, “Intelligent people - what makes them intelligent? Creative people - what makes them creative? Why does reading literature make us smarter? Why does a person with an advanced vocabulary sound so dang smart?”
For months I’ve been thinking about and practicing my own articulation. The concept took more root when I learned about the Sapir Whorf hypothesis in an introductory communications course. The Sapir Whorf hypothesis, developed by Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, is the idea that language determines modes of thought - that is, your language constitutes what you can think.
I was surprised to learn that among some other languages in which the colors “blue” and “green” are one word (compared to yours and my language, where “blue” and “green” are two seperate words) people who speak these languages often have a tough time distinguishing the two colors objectively. That’s insane! (Yes, and not really, under this theory).
Different ideas have formed from the Sapir Whorf hypothesis, and the gist of the idea that most caught my attention goes like this:
“You can’t speak what you can’t think, and you can’t think what you can’t speak;
You can speak what you can think, and you can think what you can speak.”
In other words, the limits of your imagination are defined by your own ability to articulate. You cannot imagine what you cannot say, and you cannot speak what you cannot conceive of. It’s absolutely powerful. In a most basic sense, your vocabulary IS very important! What you can speak of represents what you can imagine! This is why literature, reading, and discussion are crucial to development.
Articulation is a skill, but a skill that can be developed. You can start with the most practical methods - memorizing vocabulary, then trying to speak it in normal conversations. You can engage in discussions on topics you aren’t familiar with, and you can read books that enlighten your mind.
I know this isn’t a common topic on “generating new knowledge”, especially in an innovative and business context. I’ve found this idea to be so profound and impactful that I had to share it, and I always think going to the very roots of an idea “generates new knowledge”.
Peterson, J.P. (2018) 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Canada: Penguin Random House.