Remaining content with half-knowledge, or negative capability, is a literary concept that may be applied to innovation in general. In a famous letter to his brothers, the English poet John Keats defined negative capability as such: "when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."
This zen-like state of permanent beta makes many people uncomfortable today. In a rapidly changing world, we seek comfort in certainty. And yet, certainty cannot always be found, nor should it even be regarded as desirable. Innovation, after all, is a destructive act. We often have to unlearn what we know and disrupt our own thinking in order to create better outcomes.
To the extent that we can make this process joyful, creative and ultimately productive will determine how good we are at embracing negative capability. And it is in this spirit that Big Think embarks on our next journey, on the occasion of our fifth anniversary.
Read Big Think President and co-founder Peter Hopkins's letter to our audience which details the launch of two new platforms, Edge and Mentor.