The Persistence of Ignorance
2 Ignorance in Context 3
2 Ignorance in Context The human being of the industrial age, overwhelmed by information, is experiencing an ‘ignorance explosion’. (Lukasiewicz, 1994, p. 7) In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty. (Marley, 1976) hilosophers, teachers, researchers and others have spent a good portion of the efforts towards human development dealing with questions about knowledge. What is it? How is it acquired, spread, preserved? We have asked fundamental questions about the nature of knowledge and the nature and extent of knowing. Knowledge has been an important part of many religious traditions, particularly as the key issue over which (some interpreta- tions suggest) Adam and Eve fell from God’s grace in the Garden of Eden. Some scholars have cited eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant’s ideas about the political implications of knowledge stemming, in part, from his famous definition of enlightenment (as quoted in translation by Cronin [2003, p. 51]) as follows: Enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his self-incurred minority. Mi- nority is the inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another… Any blanket endorsement of Kant’s broader views on enlightenment must, however, be tempered by a knowledge of his early views on a major facet of ignorance that will occupy our attention in the present discussion—namely the manifestation of ignorance in the form of racism. It is somewhat ironic that ideas about knowledge and enlightenment should be adopted from Kant. Though much of the analysis of Kant’s work suggests that he valued personal freedom and...
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