“But throughout history some thinkers have been searching for and have sometimes discovered various kinds of order previously unknown. They usually met opposition from the bearers of established knowledge who were sure that it was complete; nonetheless, the search went on, though sometimes with long interruptions, and gradually resulted in the development of new varieties of knowledge.”
“Modern scientific knowledge, the latest result of this slow, agelong evolution (of knowledge) may represent the final result. This is not because scientists know everything that is to be known, but because search for the unknown, which was incompatible with older forms of knowledge, has been recognized by scientists as one of their main functions. Consequently, whatever new knowledge may emerge from this search will remain an integral part of scientific knowledge.”
Florian Znaniecki, Cultural Sciences: Their Origin and Development
Why must the search for the unknown be incompatible with older forms of knowledge – pragmatic, religious, philosophic knowledge? The search for truth is the impetus which drives all inquiry, is it not? Do we then as finite human beings, who are only capable of making use of approximately twenty percent of our brains, have such temerity as to presume that we are remotely capable of understanding truth in it’s finality?
Too often are we locked into our doxic notions of what is real. The presumption that “there can be no alternative” to anything that we are capable of contemplating, perceiving, experiencing, KNOWING, is absurdity in it’s fullest manifestation. There must absolutely be faith involved with any and all forms of knowing. This is not to suggest that we cannot, or perhaps better said, should not live by faith. For even the most devout atheist can only know that there is no God by faith. There cannot be empirical evidence for or against the existence of a Being that is outside of our notions of time and space. With what do you propose to “measure” this certainty?
We must begin to understand that in all things, we can only know in part, and therefore the “search for the unknown” must necessarily be a main function of all of our forms of knowledge. Adorno has said “the whole is false”, which is of course true, but only when understood as “the whole is incomplete”. Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. We know in part, we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. Show me what is perfect, and I will show you truth, the actual order of all things. We must not be too quick to dismiss the unfamiliar.