Cf: In the Way of Inquiry • Obstacles
“Upon this first, and in one sense this sole, rule of reason, that in order
to learn you must desire to learn, and in so desiring not be satisfied with
what you already incline to think, there follows one corollary which itself
deserves to be inscribed upon every wall of the city of philosophy:
“Do not block the way of inquiry.”
C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers, CP 1.135–136
From an unpaginated ms. “F.R.L.”, c. 1899.
Often the biggest obstacle to learning more is the need to feel
one already knows. And yet there are some things a person knows,
at least, in comparison to other things, and it makes sense to use
what one already knows best in order to learn what one needs to know
better. The question is, how does one know which is which? What test
can tell what is known so well it can be trusted in learning what is not?
One way to test a supposed knowledge is to try to formulate it in such a way
that it can be taught to other people. A related test, harder in some ways
but easier in others, is to try to formalize it so completely that even a
computer could go through the motions that are supposed to be definitive
of its practice.
Both ways of testing a supposition of knowledge depend on putting knowledge
in forms which can be communicated or transported from one medium or system
of interpretation to another. Knowledge already in a concrete form takes
no more than a simple reformation or transformation, otherwise it takes
a more radical metamorphosis, from a wholly disorganized condition to
the first inklings of a portable or sharable form.