Sunday, November 11, 2012

What we know is a reflection of the questions we ask


Pawtuckaway State Park, late fall 2012

What we know is a reflection of the questions we ask…

According to Gaston Bachelard, “all knowledge is in response to a question. If there were no question, there would be no scientific knowledge. Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given. All is constructed."


Gaston Bachelard was a renaissance man, living from 1894 to 1962, writing about poetry, dreams, psychoanalysis, and the imagination. But he is best known for his work in philosophy and the history of science. He was a professor at Dijon from 1930 to 1940 and then became the inaugural chair in history and philosophy of the sciences at the Sorbonne.

To Bachelard, scientific developments such as Einstein's theory of relativity demonstrated the discontinuous nature of the history of sciences. I am especially fond of him because I share his view that human reality is socially constructed. He was a major influence on leading thinkers of his day including Thomas Kuhn, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michel Foucault.

Other quotes I like by Bachelard:

“The characteristic of scientific progress is our knowing that we did not know.”

“There is no original truth, only original error.”

“Man is an imagining being.”
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