Humans Know Nothing Essay

1330 words - 5 pages

We, as humans, are constantly on an ongoing journey to pack our knowledge hungry brains with more and more information. Almost demoting knowledge to a drug for the fact that we are continuously seeking more of it like an addict. Sometimes though, we can "overdose" on it to the point that we give ourselves a headache and are left in need of a break. Ironically, no matter how much information we cram into our brains, we are never fully capable of using our brains to its full potential, in a way defeating the whole purpose of expanding our growth for knowledge . Sadly enough Thomas Alva Edison, inventor of the light bulb, points out the reality that, "we don't know one-millionth of one percent about anything" (Knowledge 1). Amusingly coming from a man who yielded the knowledge to invent an array of iconic devices, ranging from the light bulb to the motion picture camera, it eludes the actuality of how even though we are always looking for new knowledge, we will never be able to really know everything. Similarly, by connecting points made in Yarrow Dunham lecture and in Carl Sagan's essay “Can We Know the Universe?” we see the same inferences as acknowledged by Edison. Through the lecture and the essay we can vividly see some of the fundamental implications that arise for the concept of knowledge.
Although a brain can accumulate vast amounts of knowledge over its lifetime, even it falls within its own limitations. Our brain has to be one of the best features humans poses that other species don't really quite have. Yarrow Dunham, in his lecture "What's in a name: Labels and the Development of Social Knowledge", explained how all species has a brain but a human brain has the complexity and the capacity to keep on learning and gain new knowledge in a way that is unprecedented by all the other species. Sagan in his essay "Can We Know the Universe?" tries to show an important knowledge limitation by entailing light on a speck of salt. In doing this, Sagan asks us to, "consider one microgram of table salt, a speck just barely large enough for someone with keen eyesight to make out without a microscope. In that grain of salt there are about 1016 sodium and chlorine atoms. That is a 1 followed by 16 zeros, 10 million billion atoms" (Sagan 1). When reflecting on the grain of salt we see that there are many things that have to be well thought out to understand it. To fully evaluate the speck of salt we have to know its dimensional analysis, physical, and chemical properties. In this case Sagan is trying to highlight the fact that one grain of salt contains an enormous amount of atoms, maybe too many for us to calculate out.
Delving further, Sagan compares the salts amount of sodium and chloride atoms to the brain where he expresses how, "there are perhaps 1011 neurons in the brain, the circuit elements and switches that are responsible in their electrical and chemical activity for the functioning of our minds" (Sagan 1). We directly see that the...

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