Opinion vs. the Will to Learn

Peirce (EP2:47): ‘The first thing that the Will to Learn supposes is a dissatisfaction with one’s present state of opinion.’ But we often like to feel that we are in the right, and opinions seem to have their own will to grow, that is, to be more widely shared. Gadamer (1960, 362-6) puts it this way:

We cannot have experiences without asking questions.

In order to be able to ask, one must want to know, and that means knowing that one does not know.

It is opinion that suppresses questions. Opinion has a curious tendency to propagate itself. It would always like to be the general opinion, just as the word that the Greeks have for opinion, doxa, also means the decision made by the majority in the council assembly. How, then, can ignorance be admitted and questions arise?

the priority of the question over the answer … is the basis of knowledge. Knowledge always means, precisely, considering opposites. Its superiority over preconceived opinion consists in the fact that it is able to conceive of possibilities as possibilities.

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