Knowing Nothing

The truth is, that all genuine appreciation rests on a certain mystery of humility and almost of darkness. The man who said, “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,” put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth “Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised.” The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see, and greener grass, and a more startling sun. Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inherit the earth. Until we realize that things might not be we cannot realize that things are. Until we see the background of darkness we cannot admire the light as a single and created thing. As soon as we have seen that darkness, all light is lightening, sudden, blinding, and divine. Until we picture nonentity we underrate the victory of God, and can realize none of the trophies of His ancient war. It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we know nothing until we know nothing,

— G K Chesterton, Heretics

4 thoughts on “Knowing Nothing”

  1. When you are very young you can learn things as they are in themselves. It doesn’t take long before everything you learn is so categorised in relation to everything else that there is hardly any true experience in new knowledge.


  2. My problem with knowledge is that on what grounds can we say we know (anything) if we do not even know who we are. what are we doing? the source of knowledge is knowing nothing!


  3. This is why I like the work of the philosophers who try to reason from as little reliance on outside sense as possible, like Descarte or Berkeley. Trying to understand what we are in isolation from where we are – since where we are is something we know built on what we are. However it is rather putting the cart before the horse – we know that we exist before our rationality – I even have a friend who remembers being a child before he had language. What we are springs from where we are.


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