Now for something different, that is in fact a repeat, namely of three
lemmas in my
Philosophical Dictionary, that I repeat because they are often
relevant to what I read, noticing a marked lack (first) or marked surplus
(other two) of these three items.
And I end with some links to speeches of a great man and a great speaker.
1. On wisdom, ignorance and wishful thinking
Wisdom: The exercise of right
judgment, where the latter may be provisionally characterized as
being rational and
reasonable; being more
than not, if not true outright; and tending to the decrease of
suffering where appropriate.
philosophy is the love of wisdom.
As defined here, wisdom consists in exercising one's capacity for right
judgment, and these terms are chosen to indicate that wisdom (and its
lack) has at least two dimensions: A
factual dimension and an
dimension. In a factual sense, a judgment to be wise must be
adequate, or probably so, and in an
evaluative sense a judgment to be wise must be
ethical, in furthering or upholding ethical
The basic problem, of course, is: What are the standards of
judgment? Someone who is wise in one
group or civilization
may not seem so in another society, group or civilization; someone may
have little knowledge and yet use his
lack of knowledge wisely (mostly by recognizing and admitting his
ignorance); and what is ethical or
may vary from one group to another, and usually does to some extent, in
that different groups define themselves by different
ends, and use these
ends to measure what are
bad, for the members of the group.
In the above definition, two general
tendencies of what judgments that may be styled wise have been selected:
That such judgments at least tend to be probably true - which includes
many true answers of the form 'We don't truly know but
guess...' - and that such judgments tend
to help decrease suffering, especially
suffering, since we are
talking about human judgments to human beings.
See also: Philosophy
Lack of knowledge.
This is a very
powerful force for human good and
evil, and the main relevant difference seems
to be whether one's ignorance is conscious and honestly admitted or else
unconscious or denied.
If one knows one does not know, or knows one
does not know everything there is to know about something, or knows that one
does not know certainly and definitely and with full precision, one can use
his knowledge of one's ignorance to get more and better knowledge.
If one does not know one does not know, or does
not wish to know one does not know,
or pretends to know where one only
one's ignorance is easily dressed up as
ideology, and is often used as a
religious power to produce
more ignorance that is dressed up as faith or ideology.
And notice that one may quite certainly know that one is ignorant
about something, or indeed carefully ignore the relevant evidence and believe
one knows something because one does not know and chooses to neglect, dismiss
or avoid whatever is known about it.
"It ain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool, but what he
does know that ain't so."
By contrast, recognized and admitted ignorance about
something is a positive source of and reason for finding positive
about it, if one can, and not to believe blindly or
wishfully as long as one
doesn't have such knowledge (probably).
And man may be an animal that desires to know, according to
Aristotle, but most men - quite possibly all - actively desire not
to know certain kinds of things, especially such as they disapprove of
or disagree with.
See also: Fallibilism,
Wishful thinking: The inference
of conclusions that conform to one's
desires because they conform
to one's desires: "It is so, because I desire it to be so;
it is not so, because I desire it not to be so."
Inference Scheme of Wishful
Thinking: I desire it were true, therefore it is true.
This is the fundamental principle of
invalid reasoning, and it should be clear why this is so and why no
human being spends a day or an hour without some wishful thinking:
Because wishful thinking yields what human beings wish, and gives them
satisfaction and pleasure, even if this is merely fantasy, and because
human beings desire so much to get what they please that merely
imagining that things are as they
desire to believe
they are is a sufficiently strong motive to make them
what they desire, and to act on that belief.
It is the real basis of each political
ideology and each
Normally, it goes together with the active refusal to seriously consider
the reasoned arguments of (supposed) opponents.
Here is the 19th
Century English mathematician Augustus De Morgan (a good friend of
Boole) on the subject and its implications:
"My opinion of mankind is founded upon the mournful fact that, so far as
I can see, they find within themselves the means of believing in a
thousand times as much as there is to believe in, judging by
See also: Fundamental
principles of invalid reasoning,
2. A great man
Incidentally, it just having been MLK-day -
Luther King, Jr. Day - here is a link to a full registration of his
1963 speech and of his first meetings with Meet The Press:
He was a great man, morally and intellectually, and these videos may show
some of the reasons why that is so: intellect, self control, vision,
courage. Also, he was the greatest speaker I have heard.
P.S. Corrections have to wait till later.