Afterword: Ignorance studies

Interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary

Authored by: Michael Smithson

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


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The study of ignorance does not land neatly in any one discipline. It splatters across disciplines without any respect for disciplinary boundaries. From astrophysics to zoology, most disciplines have perspectives for dealing with the unknown, employing methods from mathematics to discourse analysis. These perspectives have, understandably, their own specialized linguistic-conceptual frameworks and usually are disconnected from one another. There are no universal meanings even for technical terms such as “probability” or “risk.” Each discipline perceives ignorance through its own lens. Ignorance can be viewed as an absence or neglect of information, a failure to understand information, a mental state, a moral condition, a public problem, an economic commodity, a manufactured product, or an aspect of a culture.

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