Daily “Huh”? – Daniel J. Boorstin

Image: Guilty as Charged

Here’s a thought-starter for you…

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.

—Daniel J. Boorstin

7 responses to “Daily “Huh”? – Daniel J. Boorstin

  1. Huh! Ignorance IS the illusion of knowledge. The only problem is that we still can’t ‘recognize’ our own ‘ignorance’.

    • Addendum: We usually think of others as ignorant; not ourselves. The quotation: If we do not know, we can make simple discoveries. If we have the illusion that we know, we can become complacent. This is the meaning of the quote: Thus, the synthesis. We have to be like Socrates who was deemed wise because he held that he did not know. He was neither ignorant nor caught in the illusion of knowing.

  2. I like a daiyl “huh?” post. I was also thinking of a Daily Duh column. You know – something just discovered about some thing or someone, but it was so obvious all along that you have so say “duh”.

  3. This quote is perfect!

    The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge. ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

    When people know they know NOTHING about a subject that interests them, they are OPEN and receptive to learning about it.

    When they have the ILLUSION OF KNOWLEDGE, they often CLOSE their minds to DISCOVERY.


    Reminds me of another quote:

    Absolute certainty is a privilege of uneducated minds and fanatics. ~ C.J. Keyser

    • It is actually more complex than even that, nrhatch. Since Kant’s Critique of reason and consequently, knowledge, we have come to the point where philosophers refer to language games. This means, (in context) that non of the theories or the knowledge that we have is a final ‘answer’.
      This is however, a subject of great debate in philosophy at the moment, and is far more complex than I am able to put forth in this brief comment. But as far as you and I as individuals are concerned it might be said within a colloquialism as ‘don’t take what you think you know so seriously. Your knowledge is guaranteed to have its imperfections and is definitely not complete, so it is best that we don’t act and think as if it is.”

      • That is, it’s not only a matter of certainty, but rather it has to do with everything that we hold constitutes knowledge, scientific, social and yes, even personal. Language, like the internet, is a web.

  4. And then ‘the author’ goes back down stairs, picks up her philosophy book and reads:
    It is at this point that thought looks back at its old projects, not in terms of their original objects, but in terms of how those objects were constituted. When this happens knowledge becomes knowledge of knowledge, and consciousness becomes self consciousness.
    This explains what I am doing with my rewriting, and my interest in the past (re-pentance – look up original meaning, transformation, etc.). So I may never blog. It would take time away from my interest in philosophy and the attempt to put life, with the philosophy into the above perspective. I guess it’s still Socrates – Know thyself. The best to you nrhatch.

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