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Do we ever know all we need to know? Do we ever know all we need to know?

Letters From Home

Life looks at infmom / infmom looks at life

Thinking about thinking


I recently read a post from a person who claimed to know “all I need to know” about a particular subject. I found this somewhat amazing, given that it was obvious there was a lot this person didn’t know about the subject under discussion.

What is this concept of “all I need to know,” anyway? I’ve most often seen it used in the context of “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” Are people really so afraid of finding out they’re mistaken that they won’t learn anything more, lest they find out they were wrong from the get-go?

Jacob Bronowski wrote an essay about the difference between knowledge and certainty in his masterpiece The Ascent of Man. The essay is carefully constructed and not subject to being digested into a short summary, so I’ve always recommended that people read it for themselves. The book is available at any public library, and the TV series based on the book was released on video tape which might be available at a well-stocked public library as well. (At my local library, some of the tapes in the set have been stolen; I’m waiting for it to come out on DVD at a reasonable price so I can buy my own set.)

The Ascent of Man

I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue of “all I need to know” (which isn’t all there is to know) and about the ways in which we are all ignorant about a lot of things. I guess the main thing is not to be complacent about being ignorant. We all have the capability of learning. We seldom really know all we need to know.

I’m going to post a series of short essays about taking a stand against ignorance, as soon as I work out what I think needs to be said. Watch this space.

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Author: infmom

Otherwise known as Infamous Mom.

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