Introduction

Authored by: Matthias Gross , Linsey McGoey

Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415718967
eBook ISBN: 9781315867762
Adobe ISBN: 9781317964674

10.4324/9781315867762.ch1

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Abstract

New knowledge always leads to new horizons of what is unknown. New knowledge unsettles the contours of individual and collective understanding; it perturbs more than it settles, engendering fresh debate over the appropriate way to respond to sudden or incremental awareness of earlier unknowns: how to respond; when to respond; who may respond; who should respond but is incapacitated from doing so. New knowledge is never complete knowledge. Especially in today’s so-called risk, information, or knowledge societies, where sophisticated means of controlling or at least assessing the possibilities of loss or injury are developed via risk assessments, and where the acquisition of knowledge is viewed as an epoch-defining aspect of the current era, the unknown is not diminished by new discoveries. Quite the contrary: the realm of the unknown is magnified. This in turn raises questions about how to cope with growing ignorance, on new possibilities for shielding knowledge from others, and on what really needs to be known. It also illuminates how not knowing can be an important resource for successful action.

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