Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Midterm: Knowledge and Language

Proposition: Knowledge cannot be effectively shared only through spoken language.

As humans, we are constantly sharing and gaining knowledge through communicating with others. The question is if the knowledge we are communicating is the same knowledge gained by another. Is communication ever fully effective? By definition, effectiveness is decided by successfully producing a desired or intended result. I would argue that no type of communication is ever fully interpreted correctly.

Can we fully communicate without a universal language?

Can we fully communicate without a universal language?

A main form of communication is through spoken word. Languages vary all over the world, with roughly 6500 spoken in the world today. Mandarin Chinese is the most popular language in the world, spoken by about 1.21 billion people. This is one of the main flaws in communication. There is not one universal language that all humans use to speak with one another. Translations between languages are never 100% accurate, already altering the meaning of the shared knowledge.

Again as humans, we are all unique individuals with different experiences, personalitities, opinions, and values. Anything that we observe, hear, or feel is different when compared to another human. Therefore, when interpreting knowledge, it will not be exactly the same as the knowledge outputted to us.

Some may argue that there is a universal language between humans, but not through spoken word.

What emotions do these facial expressions portray?

What emotions do these facial expressions portray?

All humans smile, laugh, and cry, despite where they live in the world. Our facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language definitely aid in communication, but cannot be solely relied on for sharing knowledge. This can also be interpreted incorrectly, and some people cannot comprehend this universal language. Some humans suffer from social-emotional agnosia, which is the inability to interpret facial expressions, body language and voice intonation. This disorder usually effects people with autisim or schizophrenia, and limits social interaction.

To conclude,


  • If many languages are spoken all over the world and can never be translated 100% correctly,
  • And humans are all unique indivuduals that interpret knowledge in their own way,
  • And the universal language of facial expressions cannot be comprehended by everyone,
  • Then knowledge cannot be effectively shared only through spoken language

3 Responses to Midterm: Knowledge and Language

  1. sassidy says:

    This is concise, easy-to-follow, and excellently argued. Nice job on your part!
    I’m intrigued at the thought of a universal spoken-word language… since you brought up the point that not everyone comprehends “universal” language (facial expression, emotion), I’m curious to know: what type of somewhat-universal-language exists if not the one consisting of emotional expression?

    • kelseyf says:

      Thank you for your comment Cassidy!
      To reply to your question, I don’t think there can be a language that is universal to all humans. As I said in my post, I think facial expressions is the closest “universal” language we can have, as they are the same all over the world. However, it cannot be fully universal unless all humans undersand it, and those with social-emotional agnosia are unable to do so. Excluding these individuals however, I think facial expressions could be considered a universal language.

  2. sassidy says:

    Also, one more thing – If “[you] would argue that no type of communication is ever fully interpreted correctly”, can you argue that a little more here in the comments?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *