This article offers a critique of the notion of ‘capacity building’ in educational theory. Are the intentions behind the latter enterprise as benign and altruistic as they first appear? How is the term ‘capacity building’ to be understood? The article presents a radical and daring alternative for re-invigorating educational research that foregrounds the ethical engagement of the researcher by exploring the expressive, cognitive and imaginative possibilities of language. Drawing on the Calvino's idea of the ‘lightness of thoughtfulness’, I suggest that the emphasis accorded to the notion of ‘capacity building’ may detract attention from the equally significant role of incapacity in helping us to move the discussion forward in a responsive and ethical way.