Search

Epistemic Humbleness

In my post Essence, I wrote:

To the three figures of the Buddha, the Christ and the Prophet, I should add a fourth, the Philosopher/Scientist whose key truth is [epistemic] Humbleness, and whose posture and practice is that of Study. Socrates said that “The only thing I know is that I know nothing” while Newton said “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

I thought that maybe I should say that the key insight or quality of the philosopher/scientist is Rationality but somehow ‘epistemic humbleness’ seems to fit better. Isaac Newton also wrote:

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

This expresses the humility that is essential to the scientific project. It presents science as a collective enterprise that can be advanced by those of normal stature as well as giants like Newton.

Bookmarks