I know that I know nothing. The more I learn, the less I understand. I like to think that this applies to me. Even though it’s a paradox, and even though it seems self-righteous. Knowing that I know nothing feels liberating and humbling at the same time. But to maintain this state of consciousness is not easy. Especially when confronted with people who claim to be in the know.
For you can only be in the know within the bounds of your own limitations. Right? If you cannot think past your own limitations, which is difficult or even impossible, you will always be ‘in the know’. So the less you are aware of your own limitations and shortcomings, the easier it is to have firm beliefs. Now, the problem is this.
While I like to believe that I know nothing, I seem to feel that my uncertain belief is better than the beliefs of others who claim to be in the know.
How do I deal with this paradox? How do I fight for an uncertain, self-contradictory cause? What argument do I have when I put human beliefs in a universal context? My instinct that I know nothing won’t win any argument. I won’t have any supporters. If I really know nothing, there is no relevant cause. Still, firm belief in others can be frustrating, their lack of doubt dangerous. It goes against everything I believe in. Fuck again.
But I can’t just turn the other cheek.
Because it has a worrisome effect: the less critical thinkers know everything for sure, while careful thinkers doubt everything. We tend to align ourselves with people who claim to know, and who fight for their knowledge and beliefs. We choose the wrong leaders. We only have to look around us to see the effect of this.
The humble among us, when presented with a leadership opportunity, either decline or dubiously accept (ready for the anxiety of the responsibility of making massively consequential decisions without perfect information). They know that they can never know what they know and what they don’t, and can only rely on uncertainty when making decisions.
This is critical to thinking carefully about issues. You don’t really give a thought to issues you already ‘know’ the answer to. When people ‘in the know’ make decisions, they are ironically much more likely to have confidently breezed through the important and complex details of the issue.
But to be honest, I have no idea how to approach this. Every action I take discharges into a paradox, me trying to convince people by saying that they should not be convinced. I’m sorry if you expected an answer to this, but I have none.
For which I’m glad…I think.