The Argument From Ignorance: "I Know I'm Ignorant About Most Things, Silly, and You Are Too!"

Part 1

This is an argument I've used before but needs some further explication.

I am ignorant. I'm ignorant about so many things I don’t have the time to write them out here. My own ignorance stuns me. I could walk into any college classroom on most any subject and be as ignorant or more so, than any of the students taking that class and reading the textbooks. (Think: Chemistry, Math, Meteorology, Geology, Biology, World History, Forensic Science, Computer Science; Rocket Science, Neurology, and so forth, and so on).

I know a small fraction of what can be known. And I know this. I know that I know only a very small fraction of that which can be known. How do I know this? I know this because of how much I have learned. Since I have learned a great deal I know how little I know. I know there is a great deal of knowledge left for me to learn. Only the ignorant will claim they know a great deal. Why? Because only the ignorant have not learned very much; their knowledge is limited; they don’t yet know how much knowledge there is left to learn.

If you've ever heard truckers or factory workers talk to each other it’s interesting. You'll hear a few of them talk like they have all of the world’s problems solved. They solve them with just a few sentences too: “All the republicans have to do is….” or, “All we have to do in Iraq is…” or, “To solve our drug problem all we need to do is…” or, “To help our economy there’s just one thing we need to do…” [Fill in the blanks].

It’s black and white for them. They know the answers; most all of the answers, even though I can tell from their answers that they have never had a good education. (Hint: Most problems are more complex than simplistic solutions can afford). They are ignorant and don’t know they are ignorant because they've never learned or thought of the complexities of the issues they speak of. If I were to question some of their answers they might probably look at me like I was some kind of Communist or Homosexual (and that’s bad you see).

Socrates said it best: "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing. I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."

Granted, Socrates knew a lot of things. That's not the point. Everyone does. We all know a lot of things. It's just that when compared to the sum total of things to be learned, none of us know much of anything at all. Since what any one of us knows is but a drop in the bucket to the total knowledge available we know nothing comparatively. This describes us all no matter who we are.

So with understanding say with me, "I know nothing" [Think Schultz on the 70's show Hogan's Heroes if you have to! ;-)] Say it again: "I know nothing." Can't do it? You can't say it because you don't believe it? Really?

Then you are truly ignorant!

Unlike Socrates you are ignorant about your own ignorance!

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