EMMA'S NOTES #15

On the fine line between ignorance and hypocognition

🙋🏼‍♀️ Dearest you,

In light of the major societal shifts we've seen unfolding, I've been thinking about the responsibility we carry for the things we aren't aware of.

You don't know, what you don't know, right?

The number one reason why we need others as guides in our learning processes is that we often don't have a clear image of the skills and knowledge we're missing. You might have heard people use Maslow’s term of unconsciously incompetent for this phenomenon.

Anthropologist Robert Levy has coined a different word for a similar thing: hypocognition.

Hypocognition is the lack of a linguistic or cognitive representation for an object, category, or idea.

If you don't know the word tree, it's pretty hard to grasp those green leafy things all across town.

I love the moments where you find out there's a word for something you could never put a finger on. They are a special category in the domain of magical aha-moments.

But what if it's the other way around?

What if you do know the linguistic or cognitive representation, but fail to recognize the phenomenon it represents? What if you do know a word, but you are in no way affected by or related to it?

What if you don't really know what poverty, discrimination, oppression, injustice, or experiencing a lack of political representation is?

Defining one's responsibility here is a grey area. We all have a right to not know things. Frankly, it's just a part of being human. At the same time, ignorance is something we should hold ourselves and each other accountable for.

Luckily, humans are capable of a thing called empathy.

You don't have to experience something in order for you to truly understand something. We can learn from the experience of others solely by listening.

Maybe that is what distinguishes ignorance from unknowingness: the will to listen and learn.

Have a great week,

FIND ME ONLINE: emmastoks.com

ON THE GRAM: double tap

Got this forwarded? Sign up below.