, ,

Yet most attractive of all is that the claim of lack of clarity or ignorance allows one to pursue one’s own position quite dogmatically while appearing to be very undogmatic. After all, the claim of ignorance looks as though it advances no position, but vitally it tacitly asserts that one’s opponent’s position cannot be decisively asserted—it is forever only a possibility, not a certainty on which one could base action or decision. There is something very rewarding in being a closet dogmatist while appearing to be the reverse.

This in turn raises two questions, one more philosophical, the other more theological. Philosophically, how do I move from my observation about my own understanding that I find something unclear (fundamentally subjective) to the proposition that something is unclear for everyone else too (something universal)? After all, I frequently have the experience that a text from my children is subjectively unclear to me, but laughably clear to others versed in the texting argot of today’s youth. Of course it can be a mark of genuine epistemic humility to recognise one does not know something or that something is unclear to one. But it can be an important mark of epistemic humility too to concede that others may have understood something that I have not, rather than insist that if I do not see something no-one else has or even could either.

“The Art of Imperious Ignorance” by Michael J. Ovey in Themelios, read it all