Thoroughly Conscious Ignorance

Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude
      to every real advance in science.”
James Clerk Maxwell
As you may have read:
  • on our Welcome page – Syntheney is the perception of a natural harmony first seen when you aren’t looking.
    • It is the discovery so succinct, so fundamental, and so obvious in an instant, after its articulation, it elicits a lively, “Of course…!”
  • on our About page – We help people discover what they never knew they know, surprising themselves with an Aha! of recognition leading to an insight that informs and inspires.

Aha!s arrive in all matters and all degrees of:

  • insight & creativitywater-90781_1920_Pixabay
    • from commonplace to brilliant,
  • substance
    • from speculative to fully formed and actionable,
  • novelty
    • from new-to-you to heretofore unheard of, and
  • utility
    • from incremental improvement to game-changing, fundamental shift.

Common to Aha!s per se is that we can all experience them across the full range of their potential.

The Pursuit Of Knowledge

The pursuit of knowledge is not a specialty reserved to those of a particular heritage, upbringing, education, degree, profession or status.  We are all naturally disposed to pursue new knowledge.  If that weren’t the case, we probably wouldn’t be here because our ancestors would not have escaped the predators that viewed them as lunch or survived the harsh conditions of later eras that were primitive by today’s standards.

In an earlier posting, Not All Wandering Minds Are Lost, we described the process of discovery that naturally leads us to Aha!s.  Aha!s carry us into a realm of the heretofore unknown, i.e., from the realm of knowledge within the concentric circles above to the realm of ignorance just beyond the outer circle. It is there that we recognize the remote associations between what we know and what we have encountered that we have not noticed before.  That new connection is the Aha! that builds our knowledge.

The Pursuit Of Ignorance

Illustrating realms of knowledge and ignorance with concentric circles on a pond is the idea of Stuart Firestein.  He is the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University.  His TED Talk entitled “The Pursuit of Ignorance” has been viewed over 1.8 million times.  I encourage you to view it here because I expect you will find it succinct, witty, and thought-provoking.


The Pursuit Of Ignorance/Knowledge Is Not Reserved To Scientists

We can learn a lot from scientists that is not science.  For example, in our earlier posting, Empirically Yours, we looked at how scientists establish proof for their theories (Firestein has an interesting take on this and on how scientists go about their business).  You don’t need a degree in science to pursue new knowledge, but understanding their mindset and approach can be not only interesting but useful as well.

We all can benefit from broader knowledge and deeper insights.  Happily, we don’t have to rely solely on others to deliver them to us.  Aha!s are available to anyone who seeks them.

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