the more I know, the less I understand

The opposite of this statement is true, too: the more I understand, the less I know. This is so because the more we dig into the mystery of any given subject, each new discovery only leads to deeper and bigger questions. 

We know that the sun is a star that planets revolve around. Then what is a star? A star is a luminous sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity. Ok, what’s gravity? We really don’t know yet. We know what it does, but we don’t know how.

The phrase “I know that I know nothing” or “I know one thing: that I know nothing,” sometimes called the Socratic paradox, is derived from Plato’s account of the Greek philosopher Socrates, though the phrase is not one that Socrates himself is ever recorded as saying.

In Apology, Plato relates that Socrates accounts for his seeming wiser than any other person because he does not imagine that he knows what he does not know.

Chaerephon, a friend of Socrates asked Pythia (the oracle of Delphi): “Is anyone wiser than Socrates?” The answer was: “No human is wiser.” Socrates, since he denied any knowledge, tried to find someone wiser than himself among politicians, poets, and craftsmen. It appeared that politicians claimed wisdom without knowledge; poets could touch people with their words, but did not know their meaning; and craftsmen could claim knowledge only in specific and narrow fields. The interpretation of the Oracle’s answer might be Socrates’ awareness of his own ignorance.

And, much more recently, Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

I’ve been on a scientific and imaginative journey through time and space for the past two years — writing a series of science fiction novels. I do a ton of research and, very often, the answer to a question simply leads to more questions. When it gets to the point where I’m feeling overwhelmed about the apparent need to become expert in every branch of science, I usually take a deep breath and go back to using my imagination. Fiction writers have an easy out: If you don’t “know” it, make it up!

  One thought on “the more I know, the less I understand

  1. Alice Becker
    May 25, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    ” This you brought back to me”

    The more we learn, the more we know. The more we know, the more we forget. The more we forget, the less we know. So why learn?



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