One of nature’s many attempts to evolve a crab.
Ignorance, a skilled practice
Containment protocol: None. Words can’t hurt you. Words aren’t real. Philosophical ideas don’t affect reality. You won’t notice any changes after reading this. You won’t find yourself, in conversation and in your own thoughts, ceasing to reach for institutionally certified sources of aggregate information of universal applicability. You won’t find yourself reaching instead for personal anecdotes or any tangentially-related connection to your own experience. You won’t gradually cease to expect that positive knowledge exists for new questions you encounter. You won’t notice the words squirming beneath your feet with their sense gelatinized, like cobblestones turned to jellyfish. “Hermeneutic” doesn’t count.
Description: “Ignorance, A Skilled Practice” is a guest blog post written by a literal banana. The banana’s tiny cartoon arms barely span the keyboard, and as a result the banana is only able to press one key at a time with each hand or foot. The blog post is offered here as an example of what bananas can accomplish when given proper access to technology.
Since Harry Frankfurt’s essay taking a rather negative view of bullshit as a category (“On Bullshit,” 1986), some philosophers have attempted to redeem “bullshit” from its negative connotations (see, e.g., Joshua Wakeham, “Bullshit as a Problem of Social Epistemology,” 2017).
What follows is my attempt to articulate the subset of bullshit that I think is bad, because I think most bullshit is good. The skillful practice of ignorance cannot be reduced to the avoidance of bullshit. It would be self-defeating to deprive oneself of bullshit completely, for bullshit is the air we breathe, and we could not learn or accomplish anything without it. Here I try to bring to salience a particular quality of a particular kind of knowledge, such that in recognizing it, much harmful bullshit can be appropriately classified, and a state of skillful ignorance can be maintained.
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