Ludwig Wittgenstein: Knowledge & Sunsets


I can’t but help share this little tasty morsel.  A very good friend of mine just referenced the great epistemological philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in a phone call we were having (that’s quite normal by the way, he needs help)!

And I want to share it.  But because my note taking was sketchy (I always take notes when on the phone to this particular friend), I’ve written out the details as recorded in Wikipedia.

James Burke’s “The Day the Universe Changed” contains a story:

“Someone apparently went up to the great philosopher Wittgenstein and said ‘What a lot of morons back in the Middle Ages must have been to have looked, every morning, at the dawn and to have thought what they were seeing was the Sun going around the Earth,’ when every school kid knows that the Earth goes around the Sun, to which Wittgenstein replied ‘Yeah, but I wonder what it would have looked like if the Sun had been going around the Earth?’”

Burke’s point is that it “would have looked exactly the same: you see what your knowledge tells you you’re seeing.”

No wonder he would say elsewhere, “I wouldn’t want to spare you the trouble of thinking.”

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