The Enemy of Knowledge
With all due respect to Hawking, we disagree.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is neither ignorance nor the illusion of knowledge, but indifference.
It is not irrelevant that people are circulating his quotation with a picture of his penetrating gaze – a photograph that illustrates neither knowledge, ignorance nor the illusion of knowledge. It illustrates nothing. It is something, though. It is a gaze that is hard to ignore – hard for some of us to be indifferent to. The look is … Is what? Let me hesitate to say what the gaze conveys, and rest instead on an acknowledgement of the pull of that enigmatic gaze – the strange enigma of something inscrutable that demands to be known.
The ease with which people in their indifference turn away from that inscrutable alterity is the reason for the fate of knowledge and the persistence of barbarism.