Thursday, March 4, 2010
Egnorance. (n) The egotistical combination of ignorance and arrogance.
The arrogance of ignorance. It’s a scary thing. Where we mistake opinions for actual thoughts.
Real knowledge, of course, is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
Eliot Butler* contends that
…there is built into the nature of learning a remarkable protection against pride.
Many years ago I first read his excellent “Everybody is Ignorant, Only on Different Subjects”. Click here, you won’t be sorry.
It’s a start in overcoming pride in what we know and reminds us that the truly educated are aware of what they don’t know.
(It’s a free download, and when you get to the page scroll down, there’s lots of blank space at the start.)
The educated person, actively, consciously, and vigorously learning through his own drive cannot be egotistical about what he or she knows. Each step that increases understanding reveals a large area of ignorance than could be seen before. For example, one who has never heard of ancient Greek civilization can have no concept of the extent of his ignorance of that subject. One who knows nothing of calculus cannot begin to appreciate how ignorant he is of the possibilities of reasoning, order, logic, and complex problem-solving offered by that area of mathematics. One must learn some before he can even recognize his ignorance. Will Durant, in an interview at age 80, said it well: “Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
And then later this:
…one can soon tell if one is speaking with an educated person. Mark Van Doren points out correctly that nobody who is will ever admit to being educated. This is not, of course, that the person is embarrassed to be educated, but only that he or she is so conscious of many areas of gross ignorance. Will Rogers saw it clearly: “Everybody is ignorant,” he said, “only on different subjects.”
We can all smell and sense an egnorant person a mile away. They are full of themselves. Sort of A.S.S.-like, eh? he he he
*(also has some interesting thoughts on the question “Isn’t it enough to just be good?” Another post for another day)