Title 2 – KQ : 1 Does the “ unknown and Unknowable” increase as the “ known” reveals itself?


Ralph Gomory , President Alfred Sloan Foundation suggests a tripartite division of knowledge: the Known , the Unknown and the Unknowable. The Known is taught in the schools , universities and found in academic Text books . The Unknown may someday become Known but the unknowable will never be known. The unknown and the unknowable form the boundary of knowledge. Some of the current Unknowns have been listed and discussed in his Book The Great Unknown: Seven Journeys to the Frontiers of Science  by English mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.

Some of the questions for which the answers are currently unknown are Among those are questions like whether the universe is infinite or finite, what dark matter is made of, the perplexity of multiverses, and the crowning curio of devising a model of reality that explains the nature and behavior of all energy and matter — often called a “theory of everything” or a “final theory” — unifying the two presently incompatible models of Einstein’s theory of relativity, which deals with the largest scale of physics, and quantum field theory, which deals with the smallest scale, presence of Intelligent Life in space , so on and so forth.

Some of the reasons why Unknown and Unknowable exist are because of : Insufficient Data , Limitations of language , Archaeology , History , Frozen accidents, Lack of / Limited resources like Energy or measuring devices and materials.



In his Book’ Ignorance : How It Drives Science ‘ , Stuart Firestein mentions a quote about George Bernard Shaw toasting Albert Einstein, saying science is always wrong, it never solves a problem without creating 10 more. He further says that science is a fishing expedition driven by what scientists don’t know and produces more questions than answers. The facts that Scientists find and care about the most , are the ones that create new doubts , new questions and curiosity . Firestein points out that “the public’s direct experience of the empirical methods of science” helped humanity evolve from the magical and mystical thinking of Western medieval thought to the rational discourse of contemporary culture. But scientific reason has limited capacity for considerations beyond the rational and utilitarian


To many, scientists are seen as a class of people who “privilege the rational over the intuitive or spiritual, separate fact from values and emotions, and act contrary to religious beliefs about the ‘natural’ order of things,” as historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in his 1964 Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

Science historian and philosopher Nicholas Rescher calls the similar phenomenon as Copernican cognitivism, suggesting that just like Copernicus made it clear that there was nothing privileged about our position in space by debunking the geocentric model of the universe, there is also nothing privileged about our cognitive landscape.


But with science there is one important difference. The facts serve mainly to access the ignorance… Scientists don’t concentrate on what they know, which is considerable but minuscule, but rather on what they don’t know…. Science traffics in ignorance, cultivates it, and is driven by it.

Firestein translates this to science: Being a scientist requires having faith in uncertainty, finding pleasure in mystery, and learning to cultivate doubt.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt adds that scientists are “devoted to documenting only to what is, rather than what is good or what is beautiful,” thereby elevating reason over faith.


(The Limits of Understanding)








The Scope & Limits of Knowledge (David Armstrong)



Noam Chomsky – “The machine, the ghost, and the limits of understanding”