Following up on my last post, I was thinking today about an incident a couple of evenings ago, when my girl-friend came to pick me up on campus. “I’m in a little roundabout in front of a construction site,” she said. Oh, that’s the New SUB, I replied, and headed off for it.
It wasn’t the New SUB, though; it was the Alumni Centre (another new construction). But not to worry, the two new buildings are right beside each other, so it was easy to find her.
I pondered this later. Error had led me not astray, but to the right place. A little learning is a dangerous thing, Pope once said, so perhaps a little error is useful? I’m not sure that’s what he had in mind; I fear he was one of the devotees of System and warned against partial knowledge in the hopes of bringing people to Full Knowledge, Complete Learning, or whatever.
I certainly agree that a little learning can be dangerous. I once told this to a class of mine and when they asked for an example thought of my situation arriving in a city where traffic was allowed to turn right on a red light. Having been raised in a city where red meant stop, period, I suddenly was in a state of partial and thus dangerous knowledge. I needed to learn that in Toronto cars might be turning on me even when I thought I had the right of way.
So I’m all for fuller knowledge (and not being run over), and I know the dangers of thinking you know before you know, but you can never know all; there are always things to learn; one shouldn’t think there will be a time when your knowledge will be complete. And sometimes a little error can lead you in the right direction.