Judging Oneself

In the Redwing Gallery in Penzance yesterday I took part in a study run by Exeter University. We were given 40 questions on a range of subjects, recognizing artworks of famous artists, recognizing foreign alphabets, foreign words, pinpointing countries on the map and judging the weights of known and unknown objects from a series of choices. The point of the exercise was the very last question. How many do you think you have right?

Judging one’s own knowledge is always very interesting. The truly educated person knows how much they don’t know. It was Einstein who said that knowledge was a blackboard and for every equation you solve in the top left of the board, the board instantly grows twice as big. This is a vital recognition that the most completely ignorant people amongst us are those of us who in terms of facts and experience, know the most.

But that makes the blackboard even more fascinating.

1 comments On Judging Oneself

  • Sounds like Plato’s Socratic Dialogue Meno, in which a slave boy is initially unaware of how to find twice the area of a square but by questioning him Socrates brings up hidden knowledge. I think Plato is mistaken. My personal experience with inspiration is that it happens once involved and working on the subject. When Socrates began asking questions of the buy he engaged him in a thinking process and the process itself brought forth the answer. In the boy’s brain the job of figuring things out led to his recognition and enhanced knowledge of the square, it wasn’t some deep memory from another life.

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