Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Spring semester 2007.  Still part time, one class.  History of Science 201.  I wanted either Spanish or an interesting History class or another Political Science but as a "visiting student" I had to wait until all degree program students had registered and choose from what was left.

My Aikido Sensei, Math Major, UW Class of '72, had spoken of his History of Science class, way back then.  He still remembered everything.  Seemed like it anyway.  He made it sound quite interesting.  So I found an opening in and jumped in.

201 covered from the earliest recorded history up until Newton.  I missed the whole second week of lectures and suffered for it, a little.  When I came back we were up to the Greeks.  Ptolemy's astronomy.  Lasted for centuries.  The "problem of change."  In a science class?  Well, History of Science.  I began to realize that science and philosophy were much more intimately related than I had presumed.  Science, I guess, is our means of determining what is.  And philosophy our way of deciding what it means. 

This was the class where I began to ponder the nature of knowledge.  What does it mean when we say we "know" something?  How do we obtain knowledge? 

This question followed me through the rest of my classes.  I still don't "know" the answer.  But at least I now know enough to ask the question.


  1. notacynic:

    There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.

    ---Donald Rumsfeld

  2. Thanks, Fringe. Glad you liked.

  3. Ah yes, Whit. The "wisdom" of Donald Rumsfeld. Similar to that of Yogi Berra. It's possible to discern what he means; one wonders, though, if it couldn't be put a bit more clearly.

    And Yogi was funnier.