Your Opinion: Knowledge and the refusal to acknowledge
Friday, September 7, 2012
A wise friend said of my plans to rebut the latest commentator on the well-beaten, dead-horse subject of homosexual child molestation, “Attempting to refute a fool only proves there are two fools in the argument.” Without any further attempt to add fuel to that topic, let’s discuss the subject raised by my favorite interlocutor, Harold Horstmann: How We Know What We Know.
Let us begin with ignorance. Contrary to what some think, I have never attempted to deny my ignorance on the subjects of sexuality, religion or political theory. Neither do scientists, metaphysicians or true statesmen.
As has been pointed out, these and other seekers of knowledge can never claim to be “100 percent correct.”
It might be said that, as knowledge expands, so does our appreciation of how little we actually know about the universe and human nature. I contrast ignorance with stupidity, or willful ignorance. I’ll bet, that had HH read the UofC-Davis study referenced in my letter to the editor, he would have had his objections more adequately answered than I had attempted to do. (It is said the Pope refused to look through Galileo’s telescope too.)
In the enigmatic words of one contemporary Zen Master, “There are known knowns; there are known unknowns; but there are also unknown unknowns.” (Former Defense Sec, Donald Rumsfeld)
Another favorite cryptic thinker and psychoanalytic philosopher, posits in his thesis “The Reality of The Virtual,” yet a fourth category, “The unknown known — that which we intentionally refuse to acknowledge that we know. The disavowed beliefs, suppositions and obscene practices we pretend not to know about, even though they form the background of our public values.” (Slavoj Zizek)
Zizek’s point references the quality of deceit and bad faith in the pursuit of truth that is especially vexing in so many of the modern controversies that rage about us with such fury today: Our president preaches progressive values while not-so-secretly killing and torturing; Romney and Ryan refuse to acknowledge that their philosophy is the cause of our fiscal system’s collapse not the solution; our presence on foreign soil is fueling terrorism not combating it; Homeland Security is primarily directed at our citizens not the stated terrorist targets; the battles many fundamentalists wage against the “abominations” of feminism and homosexuality are only symptomatic of the inner conflict with their own repressed impulses; etc.
I must compliment HH on sparing us his customary Bible verses. Is he slipping?