The knowledge of ignorance

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Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 07:40 pm
Sorry if this is a bit silly or obvious/obviously flawed.

I have been reading Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and came to this conclusion that I'm sure I was already aware of to some extent and has probably been dealt with numerous times before:

When I can establish I don't know something, my knowledge has increased. I now know of something that I don't know. But this seems completely contradictory. Can establishing that you do not know something increase your knowledge, or are you just becoming aware of your ignorance? Or is it only knowledge if you can use, like reduction in mathematics, the things you don't know to establish the things you do know?

The more I think about it, I don't know anything.
But at least I know that much.
 
paulhanke
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 09:17 pm
@FatalMuse,
... speaking for myself, whenever I learn something new it almost always evokes a whole new set of questions ... that is, an increase in knowledge typically brings with it new awareness of the expanse of my own ignorance ("The more I learn, the less I know") ... this extended awareness of my own ignorance typically leads to the Internet and/or Amazon in order to learn something new, which in-turn evokes a whole new set of questions, ad infinitum ... it's a vicious circle Wink ...
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 10:10 pm
@paulhanke,
The problem here I think is when we gain knowledge of something and it provides questions that we don't know the answer to, that is not ignorance, its realization.
 
FatalMuse
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 10:18 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
The problem here I think is when we gain knowledge of something and it provides questions that we don't know the answer to, that is not ignorance, its realization.


But isn't it realization of an ignorance? I'm not saying it makes us ignorant in general, but by learning some concepts & ideas we realize that we're ignorant of certain other facts & ideas.

It reminds me in some odd way of a riddle:

Q: What gets bigger the more you take away from it?
A: A hole

But in a reverse kind of way with knowledge, the more we fill in the bigger we realize the hole is.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 10:23 pm
@FatalMuse,
By learning concepts and ideas we do realize that there are things we don't know, but thats not out of ignorance, its out of lack of understanding, insight, or thought, being able to conceive what is was you realized you didn't know.

Ignorant is implying that you understood the other notions that branch out from a fact conceived, but just didn't pay close attention to them. However, realization is a new idea from a fact, new questions that you don't know the answer to.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 10:34 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Fatal Muse, I would like to say that I think that this discussion cannot lead to an understanding of the facts when only examining Descartes. You should read Spinoza's 'Ethica' and Kant's 'Critique of pure Reason'. I think only with Kant a real explanation comes.

The reason I am saying this is because you are wielding a 'flat' model of what takes place in our thoughts. The value of ignorance is not the knowledge of knowing that one knows nothing because that creates the same difficulties as knowing something else (doesn't matter what). The thing is that not clinging to a certain image (aesthetical ideal) opens up a potentiality on another level. That is the importance. I can understand if this would be not clear at this point. I am willing to help you out with this one, but I think that it will take a lot of effort fro your side, not to mentail a certain 'state of mind'. Smile

Anyway, for now I hope this helps.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 10:47 pm
@Arjen,
Yeah just listen to Arjen, the aesthetic ideal, on this one. Apparently I know nothing of the brain. lol.

Personally, I thought the topic was simple. Is there really much to ignorance or when we get into Kant etc. we get into different terms.

ignorance - Definitions from Dictionary.com

I think I may have just realized a major fault to what I said anyways. The whole time in my life I thought ignorance meant something else, and I'm still convinced this definition is wrong.

I thought that ignorance meant that we shut knowledge and/or experience away that we have, getting rid of its potential for thought among it.

But apparently, it is lack of knowledge or experience in a certain aspect?

See I would think that we have to separate those two definitions, by means of not having the same starting for the two words ignore, and ignorance.

ignore - Definitions from Dictionary.com

To ignore is to ot notice even though it may be there, which is what I thought we were discussing but noooo. We have to be talking about ignorance. It changes everything according to dictionary.com. It becomes simply lacking that knowledge altogether.

That's a major realization right there, simply ignorance, but I wan't ignoring anything to do with the word, the potential was there but it happened to be false for my whole life, lol.

I was ignoring a dictionary to look up the word but not the word itself, lol. My whole life, in subtle ignorance.:saddened:
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 05:59 am
@FatalMuse,
FatalMuse wrote:
Sorry if this is a bit silly or obvious/obviously flawed.

I have been reading Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and came to this conclusion that I'm sure I was already aware of to some extent and has probably been dealt with numerous times before:

When I can establish I don't know something, my knowledge has increased. I now know of something that I don't know. But this seems completely contradictory. Can establishing that you do not know something increase your knowledge, or are you just becoming aware of your ignorance? Or is it only knowledge if you can use, like reduction in mathematics, the things you don't know to establish the things you do know?

The more I think about it, I don't know anything.
But at least I know that much.


If you had thought you knew that (for example) Rio was the capital of Brazil, but you now found out that Brasilia was the capital and not Rio, then you now know something you did not know before, namely that you did not know what the capital of Brazil was, you only thought you knew. So, to that extent, your knowledge was increased. You now know that you did not know something that you (only) thought you knew. You should not make it more complicated than it is.

I bet that there is a lot you know: you know your name; you know you were born; you know where you live; you know you had parents; you probably know who they were; you know who the president of the United States is; and many more such things.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 06:22 am
@kennethamy,
Nice thread

(not much of a contribution, I know, but hard to pass up)
 
FatalMuse
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 02:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
If you had thought you knew that (for example) Rio was the capital of Brazil, but you now found out that Brasilia was the capital and not Rio, then you now know something you did not know before, namely that you did not know what the capital of Brazil was, you only thought you knew. So, to that extent, your knowledge was increased. You now know that you did not know something that you (only) thought you knew. You should not make it more complicated than it is.


Yes, that would increase my factual knowledge. Here's another slightly different example:

X = some small foreign country I've barely heard of.

Say someone asks me "Do you know what the capital of X is?" and I answer "No." Now, of course I already didn't know the answer - but now I'm aware that I don't know the capital of X. I now know there is a fact out there which I don't know, even though it hasn't (yet) been answered. Therefore I've learnt another fact (I don't know the capital of X) without having found any answers.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 03:11 pm
@FatalMuse,
Again I think thats just realization. You have no purpose or desire to know the capital of x so the thought won't cross your mind until you've had a reminder that triggers such purpose or desire to give the unknown answer potential.

Its not really important that it is ignorance or not. We just can't process every potential of an aspect, like some quantum mind.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 03:47 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Holiday20310401 wrote:
Again I think thats just realization. You have no purpose or desire to know the capital of x so the thought won't cross your mind until you've had a reminder that triggers such purpose or desire to give the unknown answer potential.

Its not really important that it is ignorance or not. We just can't process every potential of an aspect, like some quantum mind.


What is realization? And why should you think I have no desire to know the capital? But what has that to do with it, anyway. The fact is that: (1) I did not know what the capital was; and (2) I discovered that I did not know what it was.Therefore, I discovered I did not know something. Q.E.D.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 03:57 pm
@kennethamy,
When you discovered that you didn't know the capital is when the thought first occurred to you, when the answer would first have potential.

I'm not equivocating realization here.
realization - Definitions from Dictionary.com Laughing

And sorry, I have to edit a comment I made. "We can't process every potential of an aspect. It should be We can't process every aspect of something unless it has potential.

A thought is reactionary to experience or another thought. So the cause and effect correlation gives potential to the question's answer. Simply, making ignorance irrelevant.
 
FatalMuse
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 05:01 pm
@Holiday20310401,
I think the realization of ignorance is a knowledge in itself.

Being able to state "I don't know the capital of X" is now a fact that I know.
 
Holiday20310401
 
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 08:40 pm
@FatalMuse,
Yes the realization is the knowledge, and the ignorance is the knowledge you don't yet know, from the definitions.
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 12:40 am
@Holiday20310401,
It seems to me that all of these a posteriori knolwedges are simply indicators which prompt a line of organizaion in thought. These facts are just reorganizations of that which is already present in the mind. You do not 'gain' knowledge, you 'gain' a redirection of thought by having experienced what is the case. A posteriori knowledge is simply a restriction of relational possibility and a priori extrapolation.

I would say that in a sense there is no division between mind and matter, that the dualism is false, mind is a result of matterial organization. I also think it likely that a posteriori and a priori can be united in light of this.

It seems that that which is logically possible is inherent in every physical object, I would say that it is quite likely that logical possiblity is itself a posteriori and it is quite evident that it is of physical reality, thus it should be of no surprise that we can see the relational possibilities of physical objects, and further not surprising that anything which we can consider is in fact the case, for it is a part of physical reality.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 06:34 am
@FatalMuse,
FatalMuse wrote:
I think the realization of ignorance is a knowledge in itself.

Being able to state "I don't know the capital of X" is now a fact that I know.


Or that I did not know the capital, and that now I do know it.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 12:46 pm
@Holiday20310401,
Understanding of one's own understanding is still understanding, so there is no reason to consider this counterintuitive.

Also, to use the prior example, you are not only realizing that you don't know the capital of Brazil, you are also learning that there is a location that there is the capital of Brazil.

So this is not counterintuitive, realization of ignorance is the gaining of subjective knowledge, and is always accompanied by the realization of objective knowledge.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 02:13 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Understanding of one's own understanding is still understanding, so there is no reason to consider this counterintuitive.

Also, to use the prior example, you are not only realizing that you don't know the capital of Brazil, you are also learning that there is a location that there is the capital of Brazil.

So this is not counterintuitive, realization of ignorance is the gaining of subjective knowledge, and is always accompanied by the realization of objective knowledge.


I am afraid I don't know the difference between subjective and objective knowledge, but when I find out that the capital of Brazil is not what I thought it was, I have found out something I did not know before.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 02:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I am afraid I don't know the difference between subjective and objective knowledge, but when I find out that the capital of Brazil is not what I thought it was, I have found out something I did not know before.


Objective knowledge is easy enough.

Subjective knowledge includes things like qualia, feelings of consciousness, etc. I think that grasping what one understands and what one doesn't qualifies.
 
 

 
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