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Fork in the Road: All I know is that I know nothing

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Opinion | September 9th, 2013

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
The first thing one must acknowledge if one ever wishes to grow and develop as a person is to not only forget everything one supposedly “knows,” but further to outright accept the fact that quite frankly (paraphrased from the wise words of good old Socrates) one knows “nothing at all.”

Of course, being that you're all students at a highly acclaimed educational institute, this sounds like a rather ironic statement. However, there is a great difference between a “knowledgeable” individual and one who merely has an impressive collection of facts and/or figures (depending upon your savvy) under his/her belt.

So then what exactly defines “knowledge”? It's seemingly a simple question, but one with a rather complex assortment of potential responses depending upon your philosophical persuasion.

I suppose the easiest way to consider this quandary is to first come to terms with the notion that there is no such thing as “knowledge” in a singular sense, but rather there are multiple “knowledges,” each of which prove suitable and important at different times and in different places. Ergo, there's good reason as to why the concept of measuring “intellect” has been called into question for both gender and cultural biases.

For example, you may possess an impressive 4.0 GPA and be able to articulate the laws of physics, but that skill would not serve you well if you should find yourself stranded on a desolate island in a fight for survival against a kid who grew up in the Bronx. Let's take this analogy further and assume your opponent has been tossed from orphanage to foster home and back again, not to mention has spent months at a time living on the streets fighting for any scraps he/she can get. Your book smarts — a so-called merit of “intelligence” (at least according to North American standards) — would prove a pathetic adversary to his/her “street smarts.” In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that you'd likely try very hard to befriend this individual in hopes that he/she would teach you how to stay alive until your SOS call was received.

So let's start with this. Lesson 1: NEVER assume you are better, smarter or more capable than another individual, because truly circumstances dictate what's valuable in terms of “knowledge” far more than inherent talent.

Lesson 2: DON'T pigeonhole yourself into believing there is only one form of intelligence. Just because those of us living on this side of the globe value certain traits in academics and the working world does not mean that they are the most important nor most valuable traits to possess when it comes to navigating life effectively.

In sum, some of the most ignorant incompetent assholes I've met in my day have been the most highly educated. I rest my case.
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