Learned ignorance: opposing the scientificizing hegemony through Santos, Pope, and Hamilton

Jessop, R. (2021) Learned ignorance: opposing the scientificizing hegemony through Santos, Pope, and Hamilton. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 55(2), pp. 409-421. (doi: 10.1111/1467-9752.12559)

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A major strand of opposition to the West's/Global North's scientificising hegemony has recently been retrieved through Santos’ reinterpretation of Cusanus’ 15th-century doctrine of learned ignorance. Though Cusanus has been marginalised, his doctrine imbues a profound epistemic humility conducive to our present need to reconfigure education. Contributing to this retrieval, I define learned ignorance as an epistemic principle of humility, adherence to which conduces towards reconditioning learning and teaching as non-finalised, processual activities within a genuinely intercultural pluriverse of knowledges. Agreeing with Santos’ marginalisation thesis and his advocacy of recovering similarly silenced voices from within Western discourse, I argue that learned ignorance in some works of English literature and philosophy has also been marginalised. One of the most famous lines from Pope—‘A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing’—has been widely misunderstood through failing to recognise the poem's learned ignorance elements. My reinterpretation of Pope suggests a possibly more extensive literary form of opposition to the scientificisation of knowledge. I also examine another marginalised, educationally significant retrieval of learned ignorance by Hamilton. His learned ignorance standpoint fundamentally opposes the scientificisation and instrumentalisation of knowledge and learning. The discussion identifies the counterhegemonic status of this epistemic principle of humility and intimates its paradigm-shifting opportunities through some brief closing suggestions concerning how learned ignorance enriches Freire's emphases on the importance of ‘love, humility and faith’ as essential to the ‘horizontal relationship’ between teacher and student of an educational dialogue founded on trust.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jessop, Dr Ralph
Authors: Jessop, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Journal of Philosophy of Education
ISSN (Online):1467-9752
Published Online:30 June 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author
First Published:First published in Journal of Philosophy of Education 55(2): 409-421
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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