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Knowledge and Horizon of Ignorance - Essay Example

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Knowledge and Horizon of Ignorance

The similarity between the definition for knowledge and that of ignorance is that both involve the need to understand (or not) of a "subject" or "something". This writer believes there are two keys points that provide direction to this essay statement. The first point is that there must be a purpose for expanding the field of knowledge. Working towards understanding a purpose or subject can only reduce the lack of knowledge in that specific area, and, as a result, reduce the horizon of ignorance. Secondly, while field of knowledge is most commonly understood to encompass the compartmentalized areas of pursuits like mathematics, natural and human sciences, history, the arts, and ethics, it must also be noted that without the ability to justify the knowledge within these fields (often using self-awareness, intuition, faith, and logic, authority) and form a point of view, knowledge is useless and the horizon for ignorance increases. In this instance, the word horizon refers to the "boundary where the sky seems to meet the ground or sea, where the higher the observer (or the more a person expands the field of knowledge without a purpose and justifiable claim), the lower and more distant is his visible horizon (the more a person's ignorance increases, or horizon of ignorance increases)." (Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 2008) Essentially, the increase in the horizon of ignorance happens only if the expansion in the field of knowledge is not accompanied with a purpose that is justified with an achieved point of view. Therefore, this writer believes the essay statement to be untrue.
While the opening argument for this essay uses another of Henry Miller's quotes to make a point, critics who are familiar with Miller's life work might also argue that the range of this man's work may not necessarily reflect a purpose in expanding his field of knowledge which is predominantly in writing. Miller was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1891, and died in 1980 in Los Angeles California. Between his birth and death, Miller lived in Paris so he could fuel his charismatic rebelliousness, albeit in destitute and depended on the charity of his friends. The French Surrealists and the Dadaism movement heavily influenced Miller, and this led him to write a number of novels, including Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, and Tropic of Capricorn, which challenged American cultural values and moral attitudes through the discussion of sexual subjects (Miller, Henry). In his professional lifetime, Miller wrote novels that were banned in the United States on the grounds of obscenity, played the piano, painted, wrote plays and had a part in a film. While it is difficult to understand the motivation behind Miller's zest for the varied subjects of concentration, it should be noted that even with his rebellious background, his forward-looking attitude provided a purpose for pursuing each field and could justify each need as ...Show more


In an interview with The Paris Review in 1961 in London, Henry Miller was asked if there was a particular type of writer that draws him. He responded "people read to be amused, to pass time, or to be instructed I read to be taken out of myself, to become ecstatic." (Wickes 21) Miller's interpretation of acquiring knowledge is not to amass what he does not know, but to draw from what others know…
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Knowledge and Horizon of Ignorance essay example
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