“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
Daily Nugget of Gold 1551
Our Ability to Grasp the Truth
We’re pretty smart, aren’t we? Compared to the rest of the animal kingdom and certainly to plants, we have evolved to be far more capable of grasping what life’s made of than any other species, it seems. Ask your dog about consciousness and you’re likely going to get a response of it wagging its tail and chasing the next squirrel in the yard. Ask your cat about her opinion on who ought to be president next and you’re probably going to find out she’d rather have a snack or purr in your lap. Ants probably don’t spend much time “thinking” about things like this either.
Humans? Oh, we’ve got these massive brains and we think about all sorts of stuff which has little or nothing to do with thriving or even us just getting by. We think about deep subjects like, “where does stuff come from?”, or “what is the meaning of life?”, and “how did I get here?” We’re so intelligent!
Well, yes. If you ever want to know how amazingly intelligent we can be, start looking up technical stuff on Wikipedia. When you get into advanced mathematics, physics, rocket science, and chemistry to name a few, how incredibly daunting it can be for us ordinary folk. For most of us, we know we aren’t “the smartest person in the room” unless the room is a small one with not many people in it. Get an academic in that room or someone who has spent their whole life studying something there- and it’s over. We begin to look much more like your dog, cat, or your average ant.
What are we rambling on about here? It’s just this: We don’t know what we don’t know. While we might pride ourselves in knowing as much as we do today, in all of the amazing advances made in the last couple of hundred years- we still have no clue about how much we don’t know. The dog has no clue on this either. Our dog can’t operate the door, let alone describe quantum physics. Even with all the advances we’ve made, and we’ve made plenty, we still haven’t the foggiest idea about how little we know about everything.
Just as the dog or the cat might be limited by their given ability to divine the truth, we may be much closer to their level (and that’s probably true!) than we are to knowing “all”. Closer to them- as in inches away from them- compared to light years from the ultimate truth. So what shall we do? We guess part of the time we could devote to learning new tricks. The rest of the time we might want to work on doing what they do better than us sometimes, being great companions to each other (and to them!)
Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves
“How can I know how little I know?”
Copyright 2016 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.