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Awareness of ignorance

Authors
  • İnan, İlhan1
  • 1 Koç University, Rumelifeneri Yolu, 34450 , (Turkey)
Type
Published Article
Journal
SATS
Publisher
De Gruyter
Publication Date
Jul 15, 2020
Volume
20
Issue
2
Pages
141–173
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/sats-2020-2004
Source
De Gruyter
License
Green

Abstract

Despite the recent increase in interest in philosophy about ignorance, little attention has been paid to the question of what makes it possible for a being to become aware of their own ignorance. In this paper, I try to provide such an account by arguing that, for a being to become aware of their own ignorance, they must have the mental capacity to represent something as being unknown to them. For normal adult humans who have mastered a language, mental representation of an unknown is enabled by forming linguistic expressions whose content is grasped, but whose referent is unknown. I provide a neo-Fregean, a neo-Russellian, and then a unified account of this. On that basis, I then argue further that the content of ignorance can always be captured by a question. I then distinguish between propositional ignorance and non-propositional ignorance and argue that propositional ignorance attributions can be of three types, that-ignorance, whether-ignorance, and fact-ignorance. I conclude by arguing that the acquisition of truths, even when it yields knowledge that is certain, does not always eliminate one’s ignorance and that there is a degree of ignorance in almost everything we claim to know.

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