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Negative Capability

The Big Idea for Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What does it mean to think like Shakespeare? In a letter to his brothers, the great English poet John Keats defined the essence of Shakespeare as Negative Capability. Keats writes:

"...what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean  Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge."

Remaining content with half knowledge, or what we might call permanent beta, is a skill with great applicability for our times. In today's lesson, we examine how negative capability is the key to creative thinking. 



  1. 1 How to Think Like Shakespeare: The Positive Value of Negative Capability
    Daniel Honan Think Tank
  2. 2 Searching for Shylock
    F. Murray Abraham How to Think Like Shakespeare
  3. 3 Shakespearean Mind Memes
    Big Think Editors Mind Memes
  4. 4 Write Like Shakespeare
    Lea Carpenter Think, See, Feel

Negative Capability

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