A Reassessment of Ignorance from the Perspective of the New Meanings of Rationality

Viorel Rotilă


In this article, we take a view of ignorance in relation to the new meaning of rationality, including the specific perspectives of limited rationality. We begin by suggesting that the problem of ignorance is far from the implied clarity of everyday expression, and there is a risk of inappropriate use of the concept. We show that not understanding what ignorance is, is part of ignorance, trying to avoid the situation of ignorance over ignorance.  We propose a definition of ignorance by reference to the possible accessible and useful knowledge at a given time, suggesting that the understanding of ignorance is dependent on three variables: time, knowledge accessible at each moment of the present and utility. We analyze some asymmetries, including the one caused by the fact that we are often rigorous (but, nevertheless, interested) judges of others ignorance and very biased (that is, somewhat ignorant) about ourselves. We assess responsibility for our own ignorance by suggesting some limitations to the forms of ignorance for which we are responsible. We suggest that some variants of the unknown meet the definition of ignorance, and if we consider that most human decisions are made in conditions of information poverty, we can find that ignorance is frequently part of our cognitive strategies. Ignorance can be intentionally included in some of our cognitive strategies, one of which is provided by the principle of cognitive economics. The article can be one of the starting points for a set of recommendations on what can be ignored, what should and should not be ignored, when we are ignorant with no considerable effect and where/when we should not be.



ignorance, accessible knowledge, useful knowledge, cognitive burden, agnotology.

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