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The Art of Not Knowing

July 30, 2021 by Twan van de Kerkhof

A good question is always better than a perfect answer, says Harm van der Gaag. He is a philosophic practitioner, who makes a plea in his book for a questioning attitude in life. Asking questions is a goal in itself, he writes, beyond that goal is nothing.

Asking questions contributes to wisdom. Not about facts – evidence based wisdom doesn’t exist – but about what is good, fair and true.

If you ask a question, you demonstrate that there is something that you don’t know, that you know that you don’t know, and that you care to know. A question doesn’t require an answer: living with the question as a pebble in your packet allows you to notice things that might otherwise have passed unremarked. The question grants access to the unthought of parts of reality.

Harm van der Gaag has written a thoughtful, light-footed guide to the art of thinking carefully. His deliberations are most welcome in this era of carelessly scattered opinions and judgments.

Harm van der Gaag. Wie het niet weet mag het zeggen. In de spreekkamer van de filosofische praktijk. ISVW Uitgevers, 2015