eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Thursday, May 9

Sources of Knowledge and Ignorance

I love that idea.. the idea that there are "Sources of Ignorance." In case anyone besides myself reads this, it's from a book by Karl Popper "Conjectures and Refutations." Honestly, the book is well over my head.

Still, though, I've learned a lot from even the bits I've read and understood. It leaves me wondering what other little bits I would like to read next and learn from. I must admit, I'm very daunted by the wording, the references that I don't understand, and by my own difficulty focusing. But that thirst for knowledge just won't go away, and I'm afraid I'm going to go diving into it again soon. Maybe if I take it a sentence at a time..

Amazon's "surprise me!" feature could be fun for this... so here goes..

Russell's views are of course disputed. [from p.6]

OK, that does NOT count! I do happen to have heard of Russell, but I don't remember what little I may have read about him. I don't recall reading more than a few lines of his writing .. and that only through quotations by others. I decided I'd better look back a paragraph or two and see if he [Popper] tells me what Russells views are. Ah, it seems he [Popper] had been talking about Kant - another one I've heard of plenty but haven't read much of. Anyway, they all seem to think that "What can I know?" is one of the three most important questions a man could ask.

It is definitely an important question to me and seems quite fundamental.

I've long thought the pursuit of truth and knowledge was of fundamental importance. Or, in other words, "What is true?"

These days, I'm a bit less optimistic about my ability to find out what the truth is. I've ever been aware of my own fallibility, and I've tried to get better at thinking of "truth" and "my knowledge of truth" as related but incomplete.

One of my favorite ways to think about truth and knowledge is imagining a giant puzzle where each person and object is a piece, and the more they all get turned around and put together, with the variations in color and the innies and the outies, the more complete and pleasing the puzzle becomes. Sometimes two pieces appear to fit together but something's not quite right. You don't realize it until later on in the puzzling process and the right pieces come along that make everything fit better.

Anyway, the part about "What can I know?"  There could be a whole lot of truth out there that might be irrelevant to me if I don't know it.

Right?? So, see, I've learned something already! It's not something I haven't thought of before, but it is another way of thinking about it. I must say, the man is brilliant. Or I am. Or do I just think I am? ;) No, really, I think I'm just bumbling around, getting lucky sometimes and hitting on some useful idea or other. The book isn't as hard to understand as it first seems, but it does take a little extra effort when he uses references to people and their ideas. Sometimes I forget what they meant or said before I get to his own ideas. Maybe if I'd read all of their ideas already, it would seem easier. 

Some recent philosophers have developed a doctrine of the essential impotence and practical irrelevance of all genuine philosophy, and thus, one can assume, of epistemology.

That's the next sentence. Epistemology is a fancy word for the study of how people learn, of knowledge. *Yawn* Sometimes fancy words are very cool because you can use them as a sort of shorthand for a whole sentence or at least a phrase. But really, every time I see the word "Epistemology," I have to translate it into my own usual lingo before it makes sense to me. The Greeks had it easier. They just said episteme logos and it was already in their native language.

I don't agree that genuine philosophy has no practical relevance. I'm too sleepy right now to get into why but not so sleepy as to realize I might be quite wrong and any real talk of philosophy is irrelevant. It seems so obviously important that it's hard to imagine thinking otherwise... and yet, there are plenty of ideas I once thought "obviously wrong" that I now think might well be true... but alas, my comfy bed beckons.

It would be a great treat to wake up and have some thoughtful - or silly - comment that showed someone read this. I've always written for myself, but maybe it's not true that I don't "write for an audience." Maybe I do write for an audience...  one that can appreciate what I have to say and assume that if something is terribly wrong with what I've said either (1) it didn't come out quite right (2) I got it wrong but I'm working on getting it right. I don't know if there's an audience out there for me, but I know there are a lot of great people out there, so I'll content myself with that for now. Off to dreamland I go..

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