A Gallery of Know-It-Alls

A Gallery of Know-It-Alls
AP Photo/Berenice Bautista

Epistemology, the theory and study of knowledge and how it is acquired, is unsatisfactory on the subject of the polymath, or the person of extraordinarily wide-ranging knowledge. Nor is it very helpful about what is required to be learned, or cultured, or knowledgeable, or even educated. May one call oneself learned without having ancient Greek and Latin, cultured without being able to read music, knowledgeable without knowing the history of China? As for being educated, given the state of the contemporary university outside its scientific departments, no one today can claim to be educated because he or she has graduated from a college or university. Then there are the questions of what is the difference between information and knowledge and, in turn, knowledge and wisdom. A rich field, epistemology, one that has scarcely been plowed.

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