The ethos of Academia requires constant innovation.
What have you got to say that is new? What have you got to say that hasn’t been said before?
Yet, true innovators are few and far between. Most of us, like Newton, are merely sitting on the shoulders of giants.
This basic situation gives rise to various postures that advertise an academic as an innovator.
The slow accumulation of human knowledge is basically conservative. Wisdom accumulated over years slowly becomes part of an accepted world view or knowledge base, a normative paradigm that is the real giant on which all human knowledge relies.
This however doth not a flamboyant academic career make, as there is no innovation in accepted practice. Nor is it very flattering for the self-image of an academician to accept this huge monstrosity of accepted knowledge and practice without demure. Where is his/her bid for greatness?
Enter the revolutionary rhetoric and timbre of much academic discourse.
Accepted knowledge may sometimes be repositioned in such a way that common knowledge assumes the semblance of a great discovery. This re-branding usually involves some form of re-classification or re-branding: The work of linguist Zuckerman is a case in point.