Sunday, 1 March 2015

ignotum per ignotius

Opening with an all-encompassing truism from Charles Darwin, that “to kill an error is as good a service, and sometimes far better than the establishing of a new truth or fact,” Maria Popova’s latest essay on the nature of stubborn misconceptions was a real treat to read.

While that business today may seem to lie in the bailiwick of trolls and sophists to a large degree, the subject of Popova’s inquiry, furturist and educational policy-maker John Brockman highlight the noble efforts of great thinkers would helped push some scientific holdovers into an overdue retirement. Human knowledge and progress is measured by finding accommodation along a quite narrow path, and old prejudices and false-confidences—including the notion that science has all the answers and has made philosophical inquiries obsolete (in part, since any argument that promotes science at the expense of the hand-maidens of philosophy or spirituality necessarily invoke those disciplines), need to be rigourously but graciously (owing that we have to understand how untruths arised before they can be successfully disabused, and satisfactory alternatives do not always present themselves) moved aside to continue our advance.