Tagged: knowledge

The Smallness of Clouds

When the world is what we see.– Clouds dominate our horizon, block our view, obscure the light, and cast doubt on all our plans. In truth, however, the sky is immeasurably wider than the clouds — the clouds merely appear vast because they are so much closer to us than the sky. All one needs to correct this problem of perspective is to...

The Rule of the Experts, Part Four

Experts, contrary to the popular connotation of that word, are simplifiers. More precisely, at their worst, which is to say at their most expert, they are simplistic people who, for the sake of their egos or to assuage their insecurities (or both), carefully and systematically evade the unknown — which is to say almost everything — by reducing the complexity of the cosmos...

The Enlightenment Error

Plato’s allegory of the cave (Republic, Bk. VII) is the most memorable and detailed presentation of a belief that was essentially shared by classical thinkers in general, namely that a societally constructed view of reality is a necessary condition of life for all humans, although a minority of men may gradually, through a painful process of spiritual reorientation, begin to find their way...

The Paradox of the Experts

An expert is a person we are supposed to believe because what he says is science, and therefore true. Likewise, any self-proclaimed expert, meaning anyone who accepts that public designation and thus grants himself the authority to be trusted as such, assumes that his own statements should be believed because what he says is science, and therefore true. And yet every single example...

Freedom and Uncertainty

Freedom is the natural political hope of the uncertain. Tyranny is the dream of the certain. The profound awareness of uncertainty compels humility before the past, respect for one’s contemporaries, doubt concerning authority (including one’s own), and skepticism toward all claims to ultimate knowledge. The profound illusion of certainty tempts a man into disdain for the past, condescension toward his contemporaries, lust for...

The Rule of the Experts, Part One

An honest search for knowledge inevitably and necessarily opens out on other avenues of inquiry beyond the one originally embarked on. The moment one begins to feel “knowledgeable” about X, further questions present themselves — questions which, if examined with the same honesty with which you set out on the initial investigation, typically complicate the original knowledge. Specifically, the whole truth you seemed...

The Soul’s Motive

What motivates? A feeling that we need something, without knowing quite what it is. If we knew what we needed, it would no longer have much power to move us — and hence, perhaps, we would no longer need it very much. From the preceding, we may conclude that all essential motivation is indirect. For there must be a thing we can point to...