Learned ignorance

“Besides the imperfection that is naturally in language, and the obscurity and confusion that is so hard to be avoided in the use of words, there are several wilfull faults and neglects, which men are guilty of…. [T]he first and most palpable abuse, is the using of words, without clear and distinct ideas…. [T]his artificial ignorance, and learned gibberish, prevailed mightily in these last ages, by the interest and artifice of those, who found no easier way to that pitch of authority and dominion they have attained, than by amusing the men of business, and the ignorant, with hard words, or employing the ingenious and the idle in intricate disputes about unintelligible terms, and holding them perpetually entangled in that endless labyrinth.

There is no such way to gain admittance or give defence to strange and absurd doctrines, as to guard them round with legions of obscure, doubtful and undefined words….Thus learned ignorance hath been propagated in the world.”

could have been reading in almost any modern academic discipline, or listening to pretty much any financial pundit.

[amazon_image id=”0141043873″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Of the Abuse of Words (Penguin Great Ideas)[/amazon_image]



2 thoughts on “Learned ignorance

  1. Was he referring to Edward Wetenhall, a bishop, see Wikipedia? His writing often veered in one direction or another. These days, “understanding” in Locke’s sense is very much out of fashion.. We are all Wetenhall’s now.

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