A Repertoire of Concepts

In our series of conceptual thinking, we argued that “thinking boxes” or concepts help us to make sense of the world.

At the same time it is restricting us in three ways:

  • if we are not able to escape from standard interpretations of the world, we can’t innovate. It’s about changing perceptions and is called creativity or better: thinkibility
  • if we interact with someone else, it is possible that we look through different lenses, causing misunderstanding and conflict. Earlier we wrote about this phenomena in Key Concepts as Optical  Filters
  • if we don’t have enough thinking categories available, we can’t make proper sense of what is happening, nor could we imagine other possibilities. In that case, we can’t see what the mind lacks in its repertoire of concepts

This Thinkibility nibble is about this last aspect.

Could it be that creativity is determined by someone’s vocabulary? Are people that have more words available more creative? Are American native speakers less creative than English native speakers, because the latter has more words available? Could they also have more feelings, because they have more words to express themselves?

Are bilingual kids more creative?

Do have Italians, Arabs, and Chinese different worldviews because of the structure and concepts in their languages?   Do they think alike?

And if we avoid using words but let them draw?

Other evidence points to the extensive libraries big thinkers owned: Francis Bacon: 2000 books; Voltaire 6.814 books, Jules Verne 20.000 notepads with ideas captured from various readings; Pyotr Tchaikovsky: 2.000 books;Thomas Edison 10.000 books about art, sciences, history, fiction, science fiction, detectives; Albert Einstein 8.000 books.

It is suggested that the brilliance of these big thinkers could be caused by their access to a grand repertoire of concepts.

Edward de Bono, the founder of Lateral Thinking, made a habit of making concise descriptions with illustrative drawings of concepts, as he did in his books Atlas of Management Thinking and Wordpower: an illustrated dictionary of vital words.

In Surfaces and Essences –  Analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking (see review), Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander describe circa 300 concepts that people from previous generations or centuries did not possess, like noise pollution, contraception, soap opera, quality time, greenhouse effect, cloning,

“The concept of True Self”

Could it be that at our age we don’t “see”  things and phenomena, because we have not yet words for it?

Could it be that we will suddenly perceive things that were not there before, just because we invented a word?



4 Replies to “A Repertoire of Concepts”

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